Grief is tricky.
Children who have no sense of time and feel old losses as if they had just happened, that is tricky too.
Autism, with its literal, concrete thinking and difficulty understanding and expressing emotions, we all know how tricky that is.
Combine the three and you have … for wont of a better phrase “a very challenging situation”.
Annie’s beloved Grandad passed away almost 4 years ago, but the few weeks she has been so subdued, alternating between sadness and verbally lashing out to hurt those around her in an effort to make herself feel better.
See the Olympics are almost upon us and they were an important part of Grandads life, he was a swimmer, an athlete who represented Australia in the Empire Games and his wife, Annie’s Omi was also an athlete who represented our country in the Olympics.
There has been a lot of talk at school about the Olympics and it is bringing lots of memories back for Annie and she does not know how to deal. With the result that there has been lots more tears and saying of hurtful things.
We are finding at home we need to be more patient, allow more down time, school know something is up, we were talking about it on Monday, that her behaviour is so un-Annie like. Then that night she broke down and cried and cried and cried, she misses her Grandad and that is something that bandaids and kisses better just can’t fix.
We are having more one on one time, starting school an hour late here, finishing an hour early there, dropping sister off with friends when we can. Making sure Annie has time to talk, or do whatever it is she needs to do to feel better within herself.
The message at home and at school is being reinforced ‘it is okay to be sad, it is not okay to hurt others’ and we teach Annie positive methods for coping with the feeling of sadness and positive ways to help herself feel better.
Grief, children and autism, what is your experience? Any tips to help us through?