I’ve put it off for long enough. The Boy’s first ASD teacher died earlier this month, and for lots of reasons, I chose to wait a bit to break it to him. I was extremely upset, as it was definitely not expected, and I needed to prepare a plan for helping him come to terms with this. But the time has come, and here is what I have come up with:
I am going to start off with a general discussion of what happens when people die. The most recent (and immediate) person to die in his memory was The Man’s mom who died in January. At the time, we talked about death a bit, about where people go and why people die, but he did not know her very well at all. He did witness The Man’s grief. I will start with that experience first, and a general social story from Stuff With Thing about death.
We will talk about the cycle of life and how everything in its time will have an end. We may talk about other people and pets he has known who have passed away.
I will then break the news to him that his teacher has died, explaining the cause, although not in detail. I’m sure he will have questions, so I will be as prepared as I can be with answers. I have no idea how he will take this, which is the hardest part.
And then we will talk and probably cry. I will field whatever he throws to the best of my ability. We will remember her with stories, and pictures, and remind ourselves of how lucky we were to have her in our lives when we did.
If he wants to, we may create a memory book, which is something his current teacher has recommended. He likes to make these at school, as they are an outlet for him to write and draw about his thoughts, feelings, and memories, and this may help him process his understanding of it all.
And then finally, maybe some ice cream. I know I’ll need some.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
**If you are in need of some resources on how to help someone with autism cope with death, this is a very comprehensive site about this very topic.**