Jump forward to this past year. I had a few socially and emotionally lower kids in my room, and the "L" word started flowing. One autistic boy in particular who I am going to say is at about a 3 year old level told me everyday when he was walking out the door "I love you miss Karen". Partway through the year I get a new girl about the same level and in a position in her life where the only caregivers she knows have known her less than 3 months. She was an emotional mess, and after a few months she would tell me every few days that she loved me when I would help her or do something nice for her. THEN I have another autistic young man who every time he gets in trouble (especially at home) feels the need to tell me he loves me because he thinks I am going to be mad at him. So, what do you do? I'm torn between knowing it's not appropriate socially and also since they are with me for 4 years, I am someone they WOULD love. Personally it doesn't bother me at all, but I am sure my school thinks differently. It was never a problem with my higher functioning kids and still isn't, but frankly I am torn as to how I should start the new year with these lower guys.
So, I am curious, how do you handle the "L" word in your classroom? Do you allow it? Am I alone? I could really use advice.