This morning we were getting ready for school.
Out of nowhere my daughter asks, “Mummy, will I die?”
Instead of my normal ‘think like a neurotypical and say something appropriate’ response kicking in… this response that I have employed for so many years failed. So I answered her, “Not now but one day you will”.
Back came her incredulous reply… “WHAT I’M GOING TO DIE?????” followed by floods of tears.
I was really hoping my above response would kick in as I tried to pacify her… It did not.
To improve things I replied, “It isn’t just you. We will all die one day”.
She replied back, choking back her tears, “NOOOOOO I am going to die, and you are going to die? All of my family and friends will die? I don’t want anyone to die, I love everyone so much”.
I knew I had made a mistake. I tried to make it better, “It will be a really, really long time before that happens. You don’t have to worry about that now.” I gave her a big hug, stroked her hair, apologised for upsetting her and she stopped crying.
Without their appropriate/inappropriate filter kicking in, autistic people are bound to be more honest. It is often frowned upon, and many autistic people are referred to as blunt or rude. However, I appreciate the honesty of autistic people. It is real and genuine.
It is probably not helpful when talking to a 6 year old about death though!