Our Heart Goes Out to Texas

Resources for families in the wake of Tuesday’s tragedy in Uvalde, Texas

We all have been impacted by yesterday’s devastating tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. In times like these, we are often feeling many things like anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and sadness. It can be incredibly difficult as a parent or caregiver to know how to support your young loved ones and how to explain such a terrifying situation to them. We wanted to provide you with some resources to help your family navigate this difficult time.


Visit the links below to learn how you can support your child when tragedy happens:

How to talk to children about shootings: An age-by-age guide

How to talk to your kids about the Uvalde school shooting

Texas school shooting: How to help kids get through unspeakable horror

15 Tips for Talking with Children About Violence

Helping children cope: Tips for talking about tragedy

How To Talk To Kids About Tragedies in the Media

5 tips for talking about violence and tragedy with your young child

How to Comfort Your Child After a School Shooting


Talking With Children

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Traumatic Events

Books (available on Amazon)

The following stories aren’t related specifically to mass or school shootings but can help children see that they can take proactive steps to confront something terrifying.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Come With Me by Holly McGhee

After the Fall by Dan Santat

Social Stories

Social Story About Safety Drills in School

Social Story About Death and Dying by Autism Little Learners


It has been said that the only thing people fear more than death is public speaking.  Unfortunately there is no Toastmasters program to help us prepare for the experience of loss and the resulting grief.

This week on Autism Spectrum Radio we askedauthor Karla Helbert to share her insights as a psychotherapist and bereavement counselor who works with individuals on the autism spectrum.

Although you may not expect this topic to be very uplifting, I found it to be personally meaningful with important information that all families could benefit from hearing.

As Karla said, if you live long enough and you love, you will experience grief.  The question then becomes, how do we deal with our grief and how do we support our children with autism to process theirs?

The first thing to know is that when someone is going through the experience of grief, they do not need to be fixed.  Nothing is wrong with you (or them).  You are grieving and that is a very natural, healthy experience.  Which is not to say it easy or comfortable.  

Grief is an individual process: it is different for each person and can be different from day to day.  What works for you or your child today may not work tomorrow.  Staying flexible and compassionate can assist with finding your way through the process.  Our kids on the spectrum don’t always convey their emotions so it can be helpful to remember that just because we don’t see what they are feeling, doesn’t mean they are not feeling.

Grief can feel chaotic and is often triggered when you least expect it.  Sense memory, a song or even the weather can stir up emotions.  It is not uncommon for an individual who is in the grieving process to feel like they are going crazy.  Again, grief is natural and normal, and so are the resulting feelings.

So how do we support our kids with autism?

Talk to your kids clearly and in real terms about death.  Using words like “lost” or “passed” can be confusing to our kids.

Karla shared that grief is a process that demands ritual.  This includes but is not limited to the funeral and other religious practices.  You will want to prepare your child for what to expect at a funeral or other event and then let them choose if they want to participate.  It is also wise to have support and back-up plans for the child should they choose to leave.  If the child is grieving, it is likely that you, the parent, are also grieving and you need to take care of yourself as well as your child. Connecting with an item owned by the deceased, cooking a favorite meal and spending time with loved ones can all be an opportunity to create ritual.  Creative expression is encouraged as journaling and art can be very therapeutic.  These rituals create an opening so the grieving individual can be present with their feelings.  Allowing these moments and then concluding the ritual (cleaning up the meal, putting away the personal item etc.) allows you to transition back into your typical routine.

I recently experienced a loss in my family when my young cousins lost their grandfather.  I now more fully appreciate how the religious traditions and rituals we practiced created a roadmap for the journey of grief.

As Rob pointed out during the show, every child, regardless of functioning level responds to routine.  In this way, a child’s ABA program can be very supportive with creating meaningful rituals that honor the grieving process.

For more information about Karla Helbert’s work and her book go to: www.karlahelbert.com

Listen to the entire episode of Autism Spectrum Radio with Karla Helbert on our Radio Show Page