Updated: Feb 21
We all have precious memories of Valentine's Days from our childhoods. Cupid hearts, homemade cards and crafts, and more sweets than was ever practical to consume. But while they constitute a part of our beloved childhood memories, Valentine's Day can present challenges for children with autism. However, with careful planning, all children may develop their particular memories of the big day.
Potential Stressors for People with Autism on Valentine's Day
A break from the norm
Variations in the meanings of social signals
Phrases and vocabulary that are unfamiliar
Odd ornaments and exhibits
Activities performed in groups for which the goals are not apparent
Although it is difficult to prevent them, there are many things you can do to prepare your child. I have compiled a list of the top five here:
1. Create a social narrative about Valentine's Day.
A social story is a brief account of an event or action that prepares its listener by explaining the event's context and goals. This can benefit autistics to develop their social skills and ability to cope with commonplace circumstances. Allow them to picture themselves in the situation and guess the outcome. Social tales were first conceived by therapist Carol Gray, and anyone can write one about any scenario.
Think about what your youngster needs to know to reach the story's conclusion. The next step is to write a tale in which your child plays a significant role. A social narrative for Valentine's Day may finish with your youngster passing out Valentine's cards to peers. The story would highlight the value of this action by describing the reactions of other youngsters who get similar cards.
2. Consider your child's activities
Your youngster will be much more invested in the day if you include subjects they enjoy. For instance, if he or she is a fan of the movie Frozen, try to incorporate the characters into cards or activities. Other Frozen fans may find common ground resulting in new buddies on Valentine's Day.
3. School planning is essential
You should prepare your youngster before the day. Try to get details from the school of what he or she can expect. You may ready your youngster ahead of time with a pictorial timetable. Maybe show how the day will differ from a usual day. Create a social tale as detailed above.
Role-playing is another fantastic technique to "learn by doing". It's a great way for autistics to become more comfortable with everyday social situations. This prepares students with the requisite vocabulary and behavior to participate correctly in such circumstances.
For Valentine's Day, you can act out the scene of handing out cards. Doing so might be helpful for your youngster in practicing appropriate speech and behavior. Stuffed animals may represent the other children. You may then switch roles and pretend to give your youngster the cards. They will gain practice in both giving and receiving cards as a result of doing this.
5. Discuss the meaning of Valentine's Day
Emphasize the significance of Valentine's Day is primarily about honoring the significant others in our lives, and in a school setting about being inclusive. Therefore, this may help your youngster recognize the many unique people in their life.
A final note
Even with planning, sometimes children do not want to participate, and sometimes the day doesn't go so well. Don't make a big deal out of it. Try to focus on something positive and move on.
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