Responding to Terror

Although the holiday season is joyful, the recent shootings in San Bernardino and the terrorist attacks in Paris have cast a dark shadow across our world. Personally speaking, these events created lots of anxiety in Ryan. When Paris occurred, he wanted to know how far Paris was from Erie, and stated “We never have to go to Paris, right Mom?” Ryan has high anxiety levels at all times, so it’s no surprise that when he hears about terrorists hurting people his anxiety sky rockets.

peaceOver the years, I’ve developed strategies that help him calm down after events such as this. First, I talk to him about what occurred in general, omitting the morbid details as much as possible.

We discuss how everyone feels about what happened and how he feels in particular. A big part of helping him to relax is reviewing how safe he is at home, so he doesn’t need to worry about terrorists attacking in our backyard.

Unfortunately, then came San Bernardino. Although California is on the other side of the country, to Ryan it’s the United States and therefore close by. I was careful not to mention the type of facility, knowing that he would immediately draw parallels to where we work. By downplaying the seriousness of the attack as well as monitoring his exposure to the TV news, he was not as upset as with Paris.

Wondering what else I could be doing, I looked on the internet to see what resources are out there to help parents help their children when events such as this occur. The best one I found was a guest blog by Dr. Peter Faustino via Autism Speaks, who shares six tips for talking to your child about tragedy. I invite you to read it here. Are there any tips you’ve found that seem to work well? Please share below!




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