We Were Meant to be Teachers!

Classroom Management Strategies and other Teacher Worthy Ideas

How does an Autistic child learn to understand death?

I’m sure we’ve all had to bury our pets, whether a dog, cat, goldfish, parakeet, monkey, etc.  We’ve grieved and shed very real tears.  It felt like a member of our family had abandoned us.  We even felt that we didn’t do enough to preserve this favorite family member.

Now, add to our normal feelings the fact that the owner of the pet is an Autistic person.  Autistic people usually can only think in black and white – no grays or feelings can be understood.  How can we help them understand that their pet gerbil has died and can’t be revived?

Judy Endow once again shares a personal experience of how she was asked to help a child understand the death of his gerbil and the stages she took to help this child heal.

I would recommend that you read this post by Judy Endow.  Why?  Because the ideas will also help you when you have to explain death to your young child who isn’t Autistic.

As a long time teacher, I  had children come into my classroom at least once a year and they abruptly told me that their dog or cat got run over by a car or died some other way.  What did I do?  I hugged them for a while and then asked if I could share their sadness with their classmates.  The students usually allowed me to tell their classmates.  Not amazingly, their peers would then share their own stories about their pets dying.  It helped!  Usually, the classmates would ask to give a tender hug to the grieving child.  It brought tears to my eyes, too.  That’s the Momma in me that will never disappear!

I remember that when my grandfather died, my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to his Funeral Service.  I was told that I was too young to understand.  I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” and really wanted to see my grandfather for the “last time.”  I think I was about 12 years old and I believe that I could have understood.

Please use the link to go to this site.  I know it’ll give you some perspective and ideas for your own family to use.

Autism, Death and Mental Health Therapy




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