Wednesday, February 6, 2013

525,600 Moments So Dear!!

James has started a new bedtime ritual with me that is just a little creepy!  On his way up to bed, he looks over the railing and says, "I will cry a lot when you die.  It will be sad.  Night Mom!"  I know that he is just trying to process emotions that are difficult for adults but nothing like a warm and fuzzy death speech to give you good dreams!
He has it all worked out in his mind as to who in our family will meet their demise first.  Daddy, because he is the oldest, then me, then Charlotte and then himself.  It is logical and black/white to him.  You die when you are old.  Each birthday brings us closer to "deathday."  He doesn't mean to seem rote about this but to him, it is just the way it is.
James learned his emotional training through Thomas the Tank Engine.  >>click here<< and >>here<<.  Thomas taught him about the concrete emotions, happy, sad, angry... But what about the abstract ones?  Who teaches our ASD kids how to cope with loss, sorrow and grief?  A quick Google search led me to many great sites and resources.  I particularly liked a workbook I found on the search >>Finding Your Own Way to Grieve<<.  It is a workbook that helps make this very abstract idea concrete for our concrete thinkers.  I know that I will be ordering it for our family (not that we need it immediately but I am a planner and hate waiting for the last minute).
I will continue to talk to James about life and death as he brings it up.  I will not hide from it.  I don't want him to think the conversation is taboo and something to be avoided.  Avoiding emotions is dangerous.  He is asking for information and I will supply it at his developmental level to his satisfaction.  It is like the conversation I had with Charlotte when she was 2 and started to ask where babies come from.  I looked at my verbally precocious child and simply said, "the hospital."  So just remember that baby steps are the way to go when dealing with adult issues with our kids.
Death and grief can be as confusing to a kid with ASD as a familiar song sung in an unfamiliar language.  So here is Seasons of Love from RENT in Swedish to help you understand (unless you know Swedish.)  The picture is the American cast (representing the concrete emotion of sadness)  but something is different (Swedish instead of English words).  We all expect to hear at the beginning of this song the words, "525,600 minutes."  Instead we get something beautiful but different and somewhat confusing.  It will take some time before we understand it and that is OKAY.  I used this RENT song because James loves RENT both the movie and the Broadway version!  I will help him understand what he needs to become who he needs to be 525,600 minutes this year!!