One mom is sharing a heartwarming story involving her neurodivergent teenager.
“You guys. My oldest baby is 14, he has Autism, is very shy and socially awkward,” Heather Starr began a Facebook post on Feb. 14. “Yesterday he made a poster for a girl at school and asked her to be his valentine at lunch in front of everyone. She said no.”
Starr, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had no idea her son Roman was planning a grand romantic gesture.
“If I’d known, I would have suggested that he consider a less public approach,” Starr, 36, tells TODAY.com, noting that Roman has a “hard time understanding the nuances of social interactions.”
"I’m not angry with the girl for saying no,” Roman's mother explains.
After TODAY.com first published this story on Feb. 16, many on social media pointed out that a person always has a right to say no.
As one person wrote on the TODAY Facebook page, "Good on the girl for saying no! No one should feel pressured to accept any invitations they don’t want!"
After Roman recounted what happened in the cafeteria, he told his mom that he was “very sad,” but assured her that he would be OK. When Roman was out of earshot, Starr burst into tears.
"I was just crushed for him," she says, while again emphasizing that she was not angry with the girl.
The next day at school, the eighth-grader got a surprise: Roman was inundated with Valentines from classmates wanting to make him feel better. One by one, they marched up to him with notes and cards. He was presented with a poster like the one he offered his crush.
“They asked him to be their Valentine and he said yes,” Starr wrote on Facebook. “Then the entire cafeteria cheered so loud that they disrupted nearby classes and everyone got in trouble and had to have a silent lunch period after that.”
No one was upset about having to eat their sandwiches in silence.
“Moms have been telling me that their kids said it was worth it because of how happy Roman looked,” Starr tells TODAY.com. "He told me it was one of the best days of his entire life."
Roman’s signed poster is hanging on his bedroom wall, while the cards are arranged on his desk.
“Hey you are amazing, just know that! I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! BTW I thought it was really brave what you did. That took guts,” one of Roman's peers wrote.
Added another, “I loved the confidence you had and the poster you made. So have a good day! Me and my friends have you in our hearts.”
Update, Monday February 20, 6:28 p.m.: After this article sparked conversations on social media about a person’s right to say no, this story has been updated.
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