How to tell an autistic child

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How do you explain and tell a child at the age of 8 with autism that someone is going to die?

the person that is terminally ill with cancer is his uncles mother (has basically been like a gran to him) she has been so ill she has not been able to do chemo and her health has deteriorated quickly she was given 6months to live. 

he has anxieties about death and someone he knows dieing already and we have bought books explaining death but this has not changed his outlook. It is fully possible he has picked up on some conversations as all the adults in his life are talking about it but not using the exact words or who it is. 

what is the best way to explain to him that this person is going to die? And obviously if the worst should happen how do we tell him that they died?

  • Hello ConcernedDad and thank you for getting in touch with the online community.

    I’m sorry to hear this is happening, I appreciate this must be a difficult time for you and your family. While we don’t specialise in supporting young people when an adult has cancer, below is a list of links to resources and organisations better equipped to give you this kind of support.

    Talking to Children and Teenagers when an Adult has Cancer (Macmillan publication.)

    Preparing a Child for Loss (Macmillan/Winston’s Wish publication.)

    Hope Support Services supports 5 – 25-year-olds when a family member is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. You can visit their website or call them on 01989 566317 to find out more about what they do.

    Winston’s Wish is a childhood bereavement charity that offers one off and ongoing bereavement support and also provide online resources and specialist publications. They provide a helpline, email service, and face to face support.

    Perhaps contacting the National Autistic Society might be a good idea too. Your son’s autism will have to be taken into account of course and I’m sure they’ve been asked these kinds of questions before.

    Have you joined the Family and Friends forum in our online community? You could ask others in a similar situation how they had these difficult conversations.

    How are you just now ConcernedDad? We’re here to support you through this difficult time so please stay in touch if it helps to talk or if you have any further questions.

    Alex, Information and Support Adviser

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.