My son is 8 years old, he is also autistic. Sometimes he comes out with things that just amazes me.
This morning He came out and said "Good morning mom, today is Lillian and Genevive's birthday! But Genevive is really dead, but that's ok we can sing happy birthday to her anyway." "If she didn't die she would have lots of fun and play with Lillian's toys, and they would share. But she was sick and died, that was very upsetting"
Now he does bring her up every so often, not a lot, but every couple months he will engage a conversation about it. It definitely affected him, and he is more aware of it than we first thought. I try not to make a big deal about it around the kids, so that Lillian won't feel weighed down by her sisters death. Most of my candle lighting and things I do late at night, it seems like late at night is when I miss her most anyhow. I can't think of a time I have mentioned Genevive's birthday around him. But he remembered, I am so touched.
It is very clear, Alex misses her too. He was very excited when I was pregnant, He would tell anyone who would listen that there is TWO babies. And when they were born he would beg to visit the NICU. And while we were there he would run back and forth between the two isolettes, it was so cute! He was very upset that he couldn't hold them because of the wires.
When Genevive got sick, we made the decision to let the kids visit her before she passed away. Especially with Alex's communication problems, we felt that he needed to see what was going on to really understand. We didn't sugar coat or hide what happened. he needed to understand there was not going to be two babies anymore. He knows Genevive was sick. he knows she died and when she died she stopped moving. And he knows we buried her.
So when my brother brought him we were all in the family room, and he came up and gave Genevive a kiss. It didn't bother him at all that she was swollen and bruised. When I got overwhelmed I asked them to take Alex out of the room, but he came back in a little later after she passed away. I explained what happened and we removed all her wires and he said "can I hold my baby YET!". I sure didn't expect that, but what can I say, so I gave her to him. And he kissed her and talked to her and rubbed her hair, it was very sweet. I have to say that his presence actually helped me a bit. I was unsure at the time, but now I feel that involving him was the best thing, I think he has a good handle on death, and what happened, and he got his chance to get the same closure we needed to say goodbye.
Happy Birthday Genevive, I remembered you, and Alex did too!