Celebrating Valentine’s Day with your child with autism - share your love for family and friends from home

February 4, 2021

Valentine’s Day can be such a fun holiday for kids in school. It can be an opportunity to celebrate friendships, show appreciation, and feel loved and included. With many schools being closed to in-person learning in 2021, Valentine’s Day celebrations will undoubtedly look different this year. 

Allison Siegel and Sasha Y.

AnswersNow Brand Manager and BCBA

Valentine’s Day can be such a fun holiday for kids in school. It can be an opportunity to celebrate friendships, show appreciation, and feel loved and included. With many schools being closed to in-person learning in 2021, Valentine’s Day celebrations will undoubtedly look different this year. 

For children with autism spectrum disorder, this may not be a bad thing! In-school Valentine’s Day celebrations can present challenges by changing daily routines, causing over-stimulation with extra noise and movement, and potentially triggering obsessive behaviors for those who have them. And while it can be good practice for your child to have exposure to changes and celebrations, we are already in the midst of many changes. By still celebrating at home, you can provide a sense of normalcy as well as being able to control the environment and make this a wonderful and memorable Valentine’s Day for your child! 

1. Help your child understand the purpose (and importance!) of sharing your love for others by using a social story to explain the holiday.

Social stories are a great way to be very direct in explaining how a holiday works. This can be read in advance and can help get your child excited and prepared to celebrate their friends and family.

2. Decide who your valentines will be this year.

During a class party, it is typical for kids to pass Valentines to all of their classmates. If that is not possible this year, is there a way that your child’s teacher is facilitating an exchange online? Can you child email all of their classmates and digital card? Can they record a video for their friends?

Maybe you want to focus on expressing love in your family instead! Valentine’s Day can be a great time to let your child know how special they are to you and let them have an opportunity to share what you mean to them. Perhaps a family activity or a sharing circle at the dinner table can happen to mark the special occasion.

3. If you’re celebrating within your family, this is an opportunity to practice “please” and “thank you.”

Sharing Valentines is a way to practice communication. Prompting polite behaviors by saying “Can I please give you a Valentine’s Day hug?” and then saying “Thank you” after it happens is a wonderful way to practice communication. 

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, make sure your child feels loved. We all know how much we love our children, but it can be fun to make it extra special once a year! 


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