A seven-year-old Elon Musk was branded “retarded” by teachers for constantly staring into space, leaving his dad "dumbstruck".
Errol Musk said that Elon's school principal and Grade 2 teacher in his native South Africa told him Elon might need to go to a special school.
However, it was agreed that the whimsical staring might have been caused by an issue with the SpaceX founder’s hearing, and it was eventually solved by getting him ear grommets, a small tube that's placed in a child's ear during surgery to drain fluid.
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Using an outdated term, the 76-year-old said in a YouTube interview posted on Wednesday: “I knew he wasn't retarded but I didn’t know what to say."
His comments were part of the latest instalment of a series titled Dad of A Genius with a psychologist known as Anneke.
Worried that he was being summoned to his son's school, that he left soon after, because of a sharp tongue, the businessman added: “If somebody said something that he thought was not smart he would say, ‘That's stupid’ or ‘You're stupid,' you know?
“I think he may have got it from me, but I hope not.”
Errol said that his son’s Grade 2 teacher was almost in tears when she told him Elon spent a lot of his time in a “fixed position” staring out of the window.
She apparently said that a young Elon, who had Asperger’s, didn't respond to her calls, even when being shaken by the teacher, Errol claimed.
“I thought okay, well what's wrong with that, but I didn't say anything and turned to the principal and he said to me ‘Look, we think Elon needs a special school’," Errol added.
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He said he enquired about the quality of his son’s school work and the teacher said: “Oddly enough, his work is all right, it’s good.”
Errol said he "didn't know quite what to say" at this point.
He then recalled how the teacher made the eyebrow-raising comment once more, saying: "We think Elon’s retarded."
“In those days they were somewhat straightforward. They didn't mince words," he continued.
“I looked at them both and the teacher was almost in tears and I wasn't sure what to say.
"We sat there in a sort of dumb silence for a few seconds and then the principal came to the rescue is us and said maybe there's something wrong with his hearing.
"So this was like fantastic. And the teacher said ‘Yes, yes that's it.'
“And he and I said ‘Yes.'
“If it was any other place we would have got up and held each and done a bit of a jig or something.”
Errol said he left the meeting vowing to have Elon’s hearing tested, and found that all the child needed were ear grommets.
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