It's All Okay

Just a mom blogging about life with an autistic child.

Location: Canada

I'm a stay at home mom with two boys. Patrick is my youngest and has ASD.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Patrick has been telling me that he doesn't want to die. He's been asking if he is going to die. Added on top of this a child in his class just lost her mother to cancer.

So, how do you talk to an autistic child about death? I'm afraid if I tell him that he will die someday that he'll be anxious about it. I don't think he can understand the concept of 'when you're very old'. Obviously I can't tell him he won't ever die.

He's done extremely well with the death of his friend's mother. He understands that it's really sad and he's trying to be really kind to the little girl. He understands that she was really sick for a long time and that the doctors tried really hard with strong medicines to help her but she was just too sick.

Someone suggesting talking to him about death in context with animal and plant life cycles. That sounded like a good idea.

I'm off to read some books and ask some questions. Anyone have any specific suggestions or book suggestions?


Anonymous Maddy said...

Boy do I ever hear you! That has been a recurring issue for both my boys. Life cycles of butterflies and mosquitos gave them the logical sequence but ultimately ended in 'death' so we didn't find that particularly helpful.

The 'nine lives' cat book helped a bit of all of the death books that we took out of the library, but most of them made it worse and more real. may have something to do with the ongoing cat / pet obsession around here though.

What worked for one of them was as follows:- buy some coloured masking tape and tape it over the longest [if wonky] distance you can. Then depending upon how long your tape ends up being, mark off a section to represent one year, and a few more until you reach their current year [best to make this bit proportionately smaller although they might notice the discrepency] then show him the start [birth] point and then walk them all the very, very, very, very long distance to the end. At the end, put something nice like a favourite toy as this helps them associate the 'end' with something pleasant rather than scary. I have no idea if this will work for you, but itcertainly helped mine, if not you can have a good laugh at my expense and send me the bill for the masking tape.
Best of luck.

Thu Feb 26, 05:46:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is Patrick with numbers and dates? You could explain how many days there are in a year and how many years he likely has left. Then you could tick off days on a calendar so he can get a feel for how slowly time elapses. If he can get a strong sense that it's a long way off, it won't make him anxious, surely?

For what it's worth, if you lived for exactly 70 years you'd have 25567 and a half days, which is quite close to the number of squares on two sheets of graph paper.

Sun May 17, 12:37:00 PM 2009  

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