Explaining World Events to a Child with Autism

With the recent events in France on everyone’s mind, how do you discuss a tragic world event with your child with autism?

How did I talk to my child about the events in France?

My son and I were together when a news report came out on NPR about the terror attacks in France. I had read a report just minutes before on the Internet, so I knew a little bit about it.

But, my son had heard this report and immediately asked me what it was about.

I didn’t have much information at the time (nor did the news reports), but I told my son that it looked like France had suffered a coordinated terror attack.

My son asked me what that meant.

We had discussed terrorists before. He had had an interest in learning about 9-11, which led to my explaining how and why that had happened.

He even wanted to visit the 9-11 museum and One World Trade Center when we were in New York City this summer.

So, when he heard about the France attacks and asked me about them, I explained that these were multiple attacks carried out by terrorists in France.

He asked why.

I told him that it appears as if terrorists come up with ways to dispense their terror. They kill innocent people in these types of creative ways.
Was that all I told my son?

I told him not to be afraid. That’s what terrorists want from us.

We also discussed religion. I told him that most religions have extremists, but it is a small number of those who practice their respective religions. That went for all religions, not just Islam.

Why did I talk to my child?

Because I feel it’s important to discuss these things with him. He’s twelve. He’s growing up and learning about the world. He’s hearing about the world.

I believe those conversations should start with parents. I believe parents should take time to discuss these things, even terrorism. I can’t shield my child from the real world forever.

I don’t want him to afraid, and I want him to feel like we can discuss anything.

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