Celebrating Valentine’s Day: 5 ways to appreciate neurodivergents

valentines day hearts

In celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, say thanks to neurodivergents.

Valentine’s Day has its origin story in the feast day of Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine is said to have performed weddings for Christian soldiers forbidden to marry. And so the feast day of this Saint has become a day about romantic love between two people, sharing flowers, chocolates and love notes called ‘valentines’. 

However in other cultures this day is a used to show appreciation through ‘acts of appreciation’ to friends. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day where girls give chocolates to boys, and a month later on White Day, boys return the favour by giving presents to those girls.

Well, chocolate is tasty but not great for the climate with huge amounts of water going into the production of each block of chocolate. Plus, celebrating couple-hood is getting old. We propose this Valentine’s Day to show appreciation to the neurodivergents in our lives. 

Why we need to appreciate neurodivergence

Neurodivergence is a great thing to have in society.

  1. The more diversity we have, the better the decision making. The more voices and perspectives around the table, the more likely the decision we make will work for all. When we have representatives of different opinions and profiles we get the best outcomes. 
  2. The more diversity, the more inclusive and aware we can become. So much of life is set up by default to accommodate neurotypicals, placing the responsibility on the neurodivergents to fit in or adapt to the environment. How much more sense would it be to have those who can adapt easier (neurotypicals) have to adapt and make environments by default neurodivergent-friendly?
  3. There are unique strengths worth celebrating in neurodivergents. From seeing the world differently, to having extremely focused and comprehensive knowledge on particular topics which makes them great researchers, to the unique humour and creative expression they have. 

Neurodivergents need appreciation. 

They often

  • Are highly sensitive and feel strong emotions. 
  • Notice that they are different, struggle, don’t fit in or are treated differently. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, and depression. They are often their own worst -critic and are hard on themselves.
  • Exhausted from masking, fitting in, adapting to poorly suited environments and being in constant social environments like work or school.

How can you show your love and appreciation in celebrating Valentine’s Day?

So on Saint Valentine’s Day, show your appreciation and love of a neurodivergent. Taking inspiration from the 5 love languages for children (words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch):

  1. Try out an affirming statement with a big hug. It’s a myth that autistic people don’t show affection or have empathy. 
  2. Print out an appreciative and affirming note. (We’ve got one here)
  3. Spend time with them doing an activity they prefer, like painting, gaming, or talking about their current interest.
  4. Give them a little gift of something you know they like, whether it be a favourite food, a book of something they are interested in, or supplies for their favoured activity (craft, construction, music etc). Children with autism are often easy to buy for, because they have such intense interests.
  5. Do something for them that helps them out. It might be cleaning their paint brushes, tidying texts, sorting or pulling apart Lego, helping clean a room or other act of service.

While you’re at it, show some appreciation for the primary carer of a neurodivergent kid. Children with autism can be tricky, exhausting, require lots of input, care and co-regulation. Sign a primary carer up to the Balance 21 days of supportive emails to encourage them to take time for themselves each day.

A final note on autism and empathy

It’s a common myth that children with autism don’t show emotions and can’t display empathy. Yet our experience is that our children with autism are very sensitive and experience lots of emotions. They are able to think of others and about what they might like. They can consider others (like family or friends) and make things for them to show they care and appreciate them. While they may sometimes have difficulty reading facial emotions, they do pick up on others’ emotional states. They may also struggle at times to know what to do to help out, but exercises like kindness bingo help them think about what to do for others.

Check out an adorable affirmation from a neurodivergent kid:

love note to a mum from a child with autism for celebrating Valentine's Day

Conclusion: Celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently

This year, instead of showing couple love, show appreciation of the neurodivergents in your life. They (and their carers) have it rough and benefit from a little extra love and affirmation 🙂

Oh hi there superstar 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to the Capybara Crew to get 10% off, and go in the draw for a free planner- there's a winner every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top