We Are Army Strong- part 2 Helping ASD Kids Understand Memorial Day


Yesterday I shared with you a sampling of what it is like as a military family and all the emotions that come along with it. I also shared how I wanted to educate and explain those feelings to my two ASD kids. It is already a challenge to explain a holiday that has such a significant meaning in our lives, let alone trying to explain a intangible emotion and holiday to children who don’t understand emotions and feelings.
Instead of telling them all about the pride and love we have for our military the best way to help them understand is to give everything a tangible format. I know with my kids they do not do grey. They take everything at face value and sarcasm and jokes are lost on them. But for them to be able to “see” how much we care, I thought up a few ways to show them.

First, define. We are in the “why” stage of life with two of our kids. Why is the grass green? Why can’t we fly? We do we have to take a shower? Personally I love giving sarcastic answers, but that won’t fly. Ill just be barrated with more questions. I learned fast simple and honest answers are the best for ASD kids. They want book answers not sarcastic one (and I have some great answers to those questions!)

So- what is Memorial Day?
me·mo·ri·al day
Noun
A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered.
(in the Southern states) Any of various days (esp. the fourth Monday in April) for similar remembrances.

Notice how it specifically says “those who died”. Memorial Day is not the same as Veterans Day, where we celebrate all those who have served; living and passed.

Simply put- Memorial Day we remember those men and women who have died but at one time served in the military. That’s it. Nothing more. No grey.

Next, visual. My kids have amazing memories (it’s a blessing and a curse) but every memory or emotion they do know is tied to a visual cue. Most parents of ASD kids know about visual cues. My kids ABA’s use them constantly.

In order to help kids understand Memorial Day better we need to attach a visual cue to the memory and emotion we want to them experience. Ideas can include volunteering to place flags at military cemetery’s, making cards to donate to nursing homes for Veterans, visiting local VFW halls and bake cookies and brownies to take to local Veterans hospitals. Having the kids involved in making something to give away to a veteran is a great way to connect a memory to Memorial Day.

There are numerous other ways to get your child involved and thinking about the meaning behind Memorial Day. There is a Medal of Honor coloring book that explains the awards and medals. And what kid doesn’t like coloring and cool medals!

Lastly, the most impactful is hearing. Even if you child is nonverbal and non attentive, most still hear the everyday nosies that surround them. This Memorial Day play some of America’s songs. Such as the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. Hearing the songs, feeling the rhythm and beat can be just as powerful as a memory invoker as baking cookies and being told the encyclopedia definition.

If your child does like story telling and listening to the spoken word, I highly recommend trying to find a veteran who is willing to share their story.

I have two ASD children on the higher end of the spectrum. Most of what I suggested is gear towards their learning level. Please take that into consideration and adjust activities as needed. We want our children to grasp at least a small part of what Memorial Day is about. We don’t want them to end up frustrated for more than what its worth. I hope this gave some of you ideas you can share in your own home. I know today we will be remembering the fallen in ours.

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