Some autistic children have an obsession with death. They persistently ask questions concerning death, death experience, deadly illness, and suicide. This situation is quite alarming for parents, because they believe that the implications of these kinds of questions can be terrifying.
Parents, especially mothers, become powerless in front of their autistic child's obsession with death and relentless questions. They endeavored several maneuvers to get their child to stop by ignoring him, scolding him, and trying to deflect his mind. But, these moves bring no change. In fact, these moves provoke the child even more and bring anxiety and stress in his mood.
Now, the questions are, why does an autistic child ask such questions? Why does he get so obsessed with death? And, what do parents need to do in this situation?
Well, there are many causes that can make your child obsessed with death. For example, nightmares, bullying, lack of self-esteem, floods of new information, and unpredictability. But, the most important cause is, “Change”.
Terrified of Change
Children who ask death related question, or who are obsessed with death, are mostly “Terrified of Change”. The idea of ”Change” brings panic inside their bodies. They 'think' and 'ask' questions like, who will replace the grandma if she dies?
“When an autistic child feels that the interference in the order and concordance of his world is going to occur, he feels anxiety. death related questions, again and again, in order to relax his anxious and stressful feelings. ”
If your child asks you questions about death, then it often means he is afraid of change. He wants to know about the consequences which can appear after death.
What do most of the parents do when their autistic child asks them death related questions?
Well, they talk about a few things, time and time again. For example,
(a) Death is natural.
(b) Life is beautiful.
(c) Heaven & Hell.
However, these topics are not the exact answers for their child. These types of answers would be absolutely useless. Your child will begin to feel even more anxious and keep on asking the same sets of questions until you will not give him a satisfactory answer, or relax his feelings.
In order to give your child satisfactory answers, and understand the causes of his obsession, first you need to look at your own family, your family's conversations, and your family environment. Was there any change which your family experienced after the death of some loved one? Was there some intense conversations regarding death and its consequences?
Apart from this, in order to know the true source of his anxiety, notice his daily activities closely. Is there any movie that he / she watches again and again? Is there any death scene in his favorite movie? Has he seen any terrible change, or consequences, after the death of someone?
Once you understand the true source of his anxiety, you handle the situation easily. You see the world through his perspective and talk in his language. Your answers gradually water down his exotic feelings and make him feel that you are the best mother / father of this world who understands him completely.
You become his best friend, and your child starts loving you even more.
Now, what to do after discovering the actual source of his obsession with death?
Well, assure him that, “Nothing is going to change, all will stay the same.” This should be the main focus of your entire conversation. Tell him that there will not be any terrible changes if someone dies. The environment will stay the same, predictability will stay alive, and the world will keep on moving with the same routine.
The more you keep his world predictable and same for him through your answers, the more you water down his obsessive feelings regarding death, and the more you connect with him on an emotional level.