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Helping Your Child with Special Needs Cope with Tragic Events

Helping Your Child with Special Needs Cope with Tragic Events

With the slew of tragic shootings happening recently throughout the country, children may be troubled by what they see or hear. They may react with emotions such as fear, worry, shock and grief. And if you have a child with special needs, he may respond in ways that you don’t know how to handle. He may react right away. Or, he may not show signs of having a tough time with the news until much later. No matter the case, while we may not be able to shield our children with special needs completely, there are plenty of ways to help them cope with tragic events.

How to Talk with Your Child with Special Needs

The best response is to talk with your child with a disability to help her understand what happened. It will also help her feel safe.

Take time to think about what you want to say. Ask your child what she understands about the event. Find out what questions or concerns she may have. Your child’s answers should help to direct what to say.

Bottom line, here are some tips to help you through:

  • Try to stay calm. Your child will look to you on how to react to the event. It’s okay for your child to see you sad or crying. However, if you have an extreme emotional response, consider leaving the room until you can calm down.
  • Get down to your child's eye level. Speak in a calm, gentle voice. Use words she will understand.
  • Listen closely to your child for inaccurate information, along with any fears or feelings that are in relation to the incorrect data. Validate his feelings, but let him know the correct information.
  • Be honest, but focus on basic information. Don’t give out unnecessary details that may upset him.
  • Make sure your child knows that what happened isn't her fault. Help her feel safe by creating a family safety plan for responding to a crisis. Give her lots of hugs.
  • Limit your child’s news and social media viewing. If you have a young child, don’t allow him to see recurring coverage of a tragic event. That will increase his level of worry.
  • Spend time together and keep your routine normal. Stay loyal to your regular dinner and bedtime schedule.
  • Make sure your child knows it’s okay to be upset or to cry. Let him write about or draw what he is feeling.
  • Think about ways you and your child can help the victims of the event. For example, your child could set up a lemonade stand to raise money for a charity that is assisting in relief for victims.

If you need help financially to raise your child with special needs, please contact us.

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.


Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].

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