Autism and Grieving - Autism Mom Blog

Autism and Grieving

Hello to all!  I graciously step in only as a guest blogger who is learning about autism and the battles parents face with children of autism.  I confess to not having a child with autism and not knowing someone personally outside of  the online world who has autism or an autistic child.  I am a homeschool parent and have a natural curiosity and desire to know more.

Having said such,  I  am tentatively approaching a subject today on which I hope you all will kindly teach me.

My mother has been diagnosed with malignant melonoma cancer.  It has overtaken her insides, and she has been told it is only a matter of months before she loses the battle.  This got me to thinking, in a round-about way, of how autistic children deal with losing a loved one, or even a pet for that matter.

Can you enlighten me?  Is it harder or easier or no difference in the way an autistic child reacts to death?  Do they realize the finality of the situation?  (That may be seem unfair, after all, I realize that some children have a deeper degree of autism than others.  But, please understand, this is a learning experience for me.)  How do you tell an autistic child about the loss of a loved one or pet?  What can you tell me to help me understand your world better as an autistic parent in this sort of situation?

Thank you for your time and patience.

3 comments to Autism and Grieving

  • Gosh I don’t know how to answer that. My son is high functioning and I don’t think he really understands death to be honest. I know we had a dog and cat we couldn’t keep and had to find them new homes and he asks about them every now and then or he says he misses them. I haven’t really had to many experiences with him yet about that subject. When I told him my cousin passed away it didn’t seem like he had a reaction or maybe he didn’t get the concept I am not sure. I am sure in time I will have a better answer. :)

  • Good question.

    I have 4 boys functioning at different levels, and we’ve dealt with grief in the family.
    Added to it: I’ve been working for 25 years as a grief therapist with all sorts of people.

    Right now I don’t have the time to dive into the matter, as I’m due to leave for an appointment in about 5 minutes.
    But I’ll address the matter and let you know here in the comments where I’ve written about the subject. OK?
    Laane recently posted..Manic Monday 215

  • Hello Shawnee,
    I cannot be sure of how my son with HF autism felt when losing his grandma or grandpa, he was very young (2 1/2 years), but I can say I feel he missed seeing them. They were a part of his life – persons he routinely saw and was comfortable with. To not see them any more brought change to his routine. Although the change was in the form of omission, it was still change and I am sure it was felt.
    It was the same when our pet dog passed away. My son (3 1/2 years) would look for the dog and he was just not these any more. We told our son simply and kindly that the dog died and could not be with us any more, but we would miss him very much. We gave our son a picture of the dog. When we first gave him the picture we said he could always look at the photo when he missed his dog. That picture remained in his room for a few years. When a child can’t use expressive language very well (if at all), and has much difficulty with social understanding, it must be next to impossibler to express a loss – especially when the loss is an omission – very very abstract.
    I do think loss is felt – perhaps not right away, but change is always felt. If someone you like and see regularly is suddenly gone, I think loss is felt. It may not be expressed in typical ways.

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