I know it’s a bit early to talk about Valentine’s Day, but it is less than a month away! For my older students with ASD (and even those without ASD), it can be a day fraught with confusing social messages. Just take a look at the commercials on TV this time of year. Everyone is coupled up happily, shopping in jewelry stores, eating chocolate (yet still being in great shape) and buying very expensive flowers that will not last until March. Disney channel doesn’t do a great job either at setting realistic expectations of events and predictable behaviors in pre-teens regarding crushes, dating and like/love!
While these conversations should ideally be happening at home, we can and should address some of these concepts from a social perspective. Specifically, talking about how our thoughts and feelings affect other people and vice versa. We need to include perspective of the range of emotions and relationships: for example, like is not as strong a feeling as love and friendship is different than dating. I really like using paint sample strips to visually demonstrate a spectrum of emotion like these .
We also need to talk about timing (oh, it really is everything, isn’t it?). When we are building relationships with people, be it friendship or more, we must consider if it is the right time, with the right person and/or the right place. I had a high schooler ask a fellow student to prom…in the middle of math class…when he had never spoken to her before. It did not go well. This led into another conversation about a common social situation that can be so hard for ALL of us to understand; just because you like someone, doesn’t mean that they will feel the same way. Ouch.
This is clearly not a one time topic to cover nor is it where we would start with a student. We need to build relationships and trust before we step into this conversation as well as partner with the family! I have a freebie in my TPT store, Cupid Quandary, to practice some of these early skills with your late elementary/middle school friends. It’s not a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates, but I do hope you will LOVE it!
What social language concepts do you address in regards to relationships and emotion?