5 Tips for a Successful Valentine’s Day with ASD

Everyone loves Valentine’s Day, right? The elementary memories of stressing about which Valentine to give to your classmates, which cutesy saying might not embarrass us… Our children with ASD may feel those pressures and anxieties amplified.

Valentine’s Day brings multiple potential triggers for our friends with ASD. Including breaks in normal routines, unfamiliar words and phrases, unusual decorations or games, and unclear social expectations. Check out these tips below to help them enjoy the holiday.

  1. Share their Special Interests
    Allowing your child to pick Valentine’s cards that feature their favorite character, show, animal, toy, etc. can help them to connect with other students while giving them something to talk about that you know they enjoy. They could also draw such characters or interests for teachers or other special people in their lives.
  2. Practice Some Classrooms Scenarios
    Practicing new situations beforehand can help your kiddo familiarize him/ herself with what to expect during these changes in their standard routine. Your child may want to practice what to do or say while distributing or receiving Valentine’s cards, how to navigate changes in the social routines, or how to handle displays of affection, like hugs, from their classmates.
  3. Go Back to Basics
    Reviewing the history and the basics behind Valentine’s Day might help your child more fully comprehend why we celebrate and how certain aspects of the holiday have evolved. They may feel comfort in being reminded that we are celebrating the people in our lives who are most important to us (another creative opportunity you could use outside of school).
  4. Create a Social Story
    A social story is a learning tool that helps to support the safe and meaningful exchange of information between parents, professionals, and children with Autism. This technique was first introduced by therapist Carol Gray to support safe and meaningful exchanges between a child with ASD and their support. The goal of creating a social story is to accurately describe the skills, concepts, context, etc. of an upcoming event. This can help the child to immerse themselves into a learning experience that is meaningful, descriptive, and safe for all involved.
  5. Connect Your Child’s Network
    Changes in routine can be difficult, but if you plan ahead and connect your child’s network of teachers and other professionals, everyone can help to ensure your child has a great experience. Perhaps the teacher can notify you in advance regarding any games, new foods, decorations, schedule changes, etc. that they anticipate to help you prepare your child. Maybe the school nurse can provide a quiet space should your child need to decompress. Or the school librarian can offer books about all of their favorite things when they need to redirect away from their triggers.
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