Valentines Day for parents with children on the spectrum


Romantic movies paint a clear picture of what love “should” be: over-the-top monologues professing undying love, passionate kisses, and grand, romantic gestures. These are the same expectations built up when stores start adorning their aisles with heart-shaped candy and flowers galore for Valentine's Day. Some people buy-in and opt for purchasing the giant teddy bear to show how big their love is, but that’s not the only way. 


 For a parent or parents, and particularly for families who have children on the spectrum, finding ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day can be a bit more challenging, but it can still be just as meaningful. 


To make Valentine's Day a family affair, consider coming up with some new traditions. Try starting the day with a hand-written note on each person’s door. Or, at the dinner table, point out one thing you love about each person. Expressing your love out loud is a great modeling mechanism for your child with autism. 


 To mark the day as special, share breakfast as a family. Themed breakfast items like heart-shaped pancakes are great, but it’s really the time together that counts! Once you clear off the table, spend more quality time by doing a puzzle together. Put on some music, and challenge yourselves to see how quickly you can get it done. 


Structured games are fantastic for teaching your child with autism how to follow directions in a low-pressure and enjoyable environment. An easy one to play as a whole family would be “Cupid Says” – a twist on Simon Says. Before you start, make sure to brainstorm actions that will work with your kid’s needs and abilities. 


 At the end of the day, parents can still find time to kindle their love and be alone. Make a quick and easy dinner and mandate an early bedtime for your children. That way, the rest of the night is yours to do with as you please. Look through your wedding album or watch your wedding video to be reminded of the beginnings of your romance. Make an easy dessert with one person blindfolded and the other giving directions. Have a mini wine tasting, or do a taste-test of different chocolates. Look up the top ten romantic movies, and pick one to watch (don’t forget the popcorn). The possibilities of your at-home date night are endless. 


 With the bustling schedule of caring for a child on the spectrum, it can be hard for a parent to slow down and live in the moment. Hopefully, you’ve got some ideas about how to include the whole family in a day that is all about love, and you can continue to reinforce that love throughout the year. 



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