Explaining Tragedy to a Child With Autism

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

Have you ever struggled with how to talk to your child about tragedy? Whether it is a tragic event that has occurred somewhere in the world, or a personal tragedy involving a friend or family member, these occurrences can be very difficult to share with your child who has autism. In light of recent world events, Autism Speaks recently shared an article with tips for talking to your child about tragedy. We have summarized some of our own suggestions below.

  • Share the news with your child first. It is important that your child hears from you before he or she hears from another child or adult, or learns about a tragic event through the media.
  • Start with the basic facts. Sit down with your child and start by sharing the facts in terms they can understand and that are appropriate for their age. You know your child best, so you can communicate in a way that they prefer.
  • Explain the feelings involved. Remember that your child may not immediately comprehend the emotions that may result from the tragedy. Describe to your child what those affected by the tragedy are likely feeling, whether it is sad, hurt or angry.
  • Talk about what your child can do if he or she is experiencing those emotions.You can explain to your child that if he ever feels sad, he can cry, or he can talk to you or another family member.
  • Don’t forget to reassure your child of his or her own safety. If the circumstances of the event are scary, your child may be looking to you for reassurance. Make sure you reiterate to your child that he or she is safe.
  • Pay close attention to your child’s behavior. As the article from Autism Speaks mentions, many children will act out tragic events through play, as a way of trying to process what happened. This is a normal response. However, if you notice a change in your child’s regular routine, such as disrupted sleep or old patterns of disruptive behavior, your child may be struggling and in need of extra attention or reassurance.

Remember that additional resources exist to support your child.For example, you can talk to other parents of children with autism. Or, if you are in the Greater Cleveland area, the professional team at Peak Potential Therapy can offer caring guidance and support to your family.

Interested in speaking to a member of the Peak Potential Therapy team? Just give us a call today. We are happy to talk with you.