How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. Gupta Your Own Question

Dr. Gupta
Dr. Gupta, Pediatrician
Category: Pediatrics
Satisfied Customers: 7831
Experience:  MD, practicing Pediatrician with 19 years of experience. Member American Academy of Pediatrics.
Type Your Pediatrics Question Here...
Dr. Gupta is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My youngest child is 5 years old and he is diagnosed with autism

Resolved Question:

My youngest child is 5 years old and he is diagnosed with autism and a new fear he has developed about death and how I should handle it.

He had a dream about 3 months ago where he says he died, and it scared him quite a bit, for weeks after that he would start crying thinking about death and it would take hours of distraction and trying to change the subject, etc to calm him down.

Then my grandpa died, he did not attend the funeral but he knew about it which brought the fear out again even more. He is asking questions about when you die and why, I try to answer with respect to his age and understanding by saying when we get very old this is natural but he doesn't need to worry, and he will say he doesn't want to die, he doesn't want to be gone forever etc. He is also aware that my brother died (from a brain tumor at a young age (32) so when I say people grow old and not to worry he will say your brother died he wasn't old so I say he was sick then it starts again with him saying what if he is sick.

I don't know where this all came from but he is becoming so focused on this, and the anxiety seems pretty high for his age and I just want to see how to handle this because talking it out with him isn't working. 3 times now I have noticed his eyes were full of tears and he wouldn't tell me why after asking a few times he spelled the word die, so I asked what he means and he starts saying please don't be upset and I go what and he breaks down crying about dying again. The fact he is hiding it and stressing this much I don't want him to feel he cant talk to me ...just feels like I should do something, but I have no idea what. Given the diagnosis of ASD he is becoming a bit obsessive with it that is why I am asking before it gets even more severe.

The fear is worse when he has left our house, if he stays with my parents for a night, or is up at the cottage for days at a time he is always wanting to come home. Even if the entire family is together the fear seems to come out as soon as he gets back to our home (not while he is away) and he will start with I don't want to leave forever and go to heaven, etc.
Any suggestions would be great.
Thank you.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Pediatrics
Expert:  Dr. Gupta replied 11 months ago.

PediatricMD :

Hello & welcome to Just Answer!

If you have any questions after reading my answer, be sure to let me know.

PediatricMD :

Due to challenges posed by information processing in Autism, death & bereavement can pose special challenges in these children

PediatricMD :

I would like to give a few tips and then direct you to a couple of excellent web resources that should help

PediatricMD :

When dealing with death and bereavement in an autistic child, the following thins help...



  • prepare your child as much as possible

  • keep routine changes to a minimum

  • use clear, simple language

  • use visual supports where appropriate

  • show understanding for unfamiliar displays of grief, such as challenging or obsessive behaviour or an increased reliance on routines. Any reactions may be delayed as compared to other people, when dealing with an autistic child

PediatricMD :

Since autistic children tend to respond better to clear & simple language and visual clues, it may be helpful to use some of the below mentioned strategies

PediatricMD :

"For example, if you describe death as "like going to sleep" you may make the individual terrified of going to sleep at night. Something simple such as "sometimes people's bodies become worn out" may be appropriate. If they want to know what this means, or how it will affect their lives, you could say that they "will not see Grandma again".

PediatricMD :

Sometimes using the example of a bird or an insect may help to understand the concept of death

PediatricMD :

Finally, for many kids of this age, fear of death can be an important issue, and here are are a few things that can assist,

PediatricMD :

  1. Be willing to discuss death with the child if he wishes it but use this as a time for reassurance, indicating that he really need not worry about it right now.

  2. Be honest when someone close to your family dies either through illness or accident. It’s the child’s lack of knowledge that will cause his fears.

  3. Be reassuring if the child thinks he was responsible for a death. Youngsters who are angry can think, “I hate him. I wish he were dead-” If by some awful chance, the person to whom the hate was directed dies, the child can feel responsible. Be sure that he knows he is not.

  4. Many experts feel that a child should be over five before he is exposed to a funeral home or funeral service experience and only then if he is willing. Parents may want to describe it as a way of saying “goodbye.”


Perhaps the kindest thing parents can do when dealing with a child’s fears is to admit their own childhood fears, especially if the parent had similar fears when he was a child. Then parent can indicate that he understands just how devastating such fears can be and that he stands ready to reassure and comfort whenever the child feels a need.

PediatricMD :

I would recommend using some of the above mentioned techniques, and getting back for any clarifications

PediatricMD :

References & further reading

PediatricMD :

Warm regards

PediatricMD :

Dr Gupta

Dr. Gupta, Pediatrician
Category: Pediatrics
Satisfied Customers: 7831
Experience: MD, practicing Pediatrician with 19 years of experience. Member American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Gupta and other Pediatrics Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I feel so much better today, and upon further investigation believe that there is a chance that the responses I got saved me from a serious, even life threatening situation. I am very grateful to the experts who answered me. Susan O. USA
< Last | Next >
  • I feel so much better today, and upon further investigation believe that there is a chance that the responses I got saved me from a serious, even life threatening situation. I am very grateful to the experts who answered me. Susan O. USA
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Yogindra Vasavada

    Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    2507
    M.D.(ped) passed at first attempt, in practice continuously for last 37 years. Certi. in Comp
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/Dr. Yogindra Va/2012-6-10_2618_DSC0039.64x64.JPG Dr. Yogindra Vasavada's Avatar

    Dr. Yogindra Vasavada

    Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    2507
    M.D.(ped) passed at first attempt, in practice continuously for last 37 years. Certi. in Comp
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/GA/GauravMD/2012-6-9_62959_gaurav.64x64.JPG Dr. Gupta's Avatar

    Dr. Gupta

    Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    1442
    MD, practicing Pediatrician with 19 years of experience. Member American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/edkulich/2010-08-17_171809_doctor.jpg Dr. K.'s Avatar

    Dr. K.

    Board Certified Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    819
    Board Certified, Ivy League educated Pediatrician.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/cbellmd/2009-11-19_013247_CB_PHOTO_2.jpg Raymond B., M.D.'s Avatar

    Raymond B., M.D.

    Doctor

    Satisfied Customers:

    422
    I provide medical care for newborns, children, adolescents and young adults up to age 21 years.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DA/davhill1/2012-6-6_17340_DLHSittingCropped.64x64.jpg David L. Hill, MD, FAAP's Avatar

    David L. Hill, MD, FAAP

    Doctor

    Satisfied Customers:

    414
    Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UNC Medical School. Vice President, Cape Fear Pediatrics.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/josho33/2009-12-16_0435_php4n8fiy_c2PM.jpg Dr. Davidson's Avatar

    Dr. Davidson

    Board Certified Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    408
    Board Certified Specialist in Pediatrics, Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FA/fabiola.caracseghi/2012-4-12_204829_foto2.64x64.JPG Dr.Fabiola.MD's Avatar

    Dr.Fabiola.MD

    Pediatrician

    Satisfied Customers:

    118
    Pediatric Immunology. General Pediatrics