By Delaney Francis on Feb 9, 2021 3:49:37 PM
When you think about Valentine's Day when you were a child, what do you think of?
Maybe you think of making Valentine's and eating sweets come to mind. Spreading the "love" during Valentine's Day also means paying attention to what your child with autism needs during this holiday. As with any holiday, preparation is key to make the most out of this famous greeting card holiday.
If your child participates in center based applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, your child may already be learning about Valentine's Day, sharing Valentine's and communicating about the holiday. Make Valentine's Day your own this year by trying a new family tradition, let go of expectations, and embrace your child's interests.
1. Try our “List of Love” printable activity.
Use our "List of Love" printable to spend time as a family talking about the reasons you love your family and friends. Feel free to draw, use stickers, and even pictures. This activity makes a great keepsake and allows your child to let their creativity guide the project.
2. Turn Valentine's Day into a themed day.
Turn Valentine's Day into a themed day for your child. Many autism centers have themed days where you can replicate the same concept. Give your child multiple options to choose from. If making choices is challenging, try a simpler idea. For example, Maybe your child's favorite color is pink. On Valentine's Day you can dress up in pink, find pink toys, and use pink markers.
3. Play a Valentine's Day Game
A favorite game of ours is Bingo! There are also several online games. Having a coloring contest, playing musical chairs, and tracing hearts are also fun games. For teenagers, ask them what games they love and play one. There are lots of adorable Valentines Day free printables you can use.
4. Try a new craft the whole family can enjoy.
This year at our autism centers, we are creating Valentine’s on Foam Shaped Hearts. Check out the instructions here.
5. Role play exchanging Valentine's Day cards.
Role-play exchanging Valentine's Day cards with your child to work on communications skills. If your child communicates through a speech-generating device, have them practice with their device. If your child communicates through gestures or sign language, have them role play the exchange using gestures or signs. You can also practice having them say thank you. This can be similar to Trick or Treating Role Playing during Halloween.
For an older child or teenager, you may share how you had fun on Valentine's Day when you were their age! You may be surprised by their reactions. Have them ask questions and ask their family as well how they celebrated. By talking about different traditions and celebrations, your child can become more familiar with the language and feelings about Valentine's Day. Speaking to your BCBA for tips may be helpful when practicing role playing.