Category Archives: friends

Autism and Friendship

In friendship there is give and take, easy talk, shared interests, and socializing. I see the way my sister is with her friends. I can’t do what they do. I’m not referring to girl stuff. I mean the social stuff they do.; talking on the phone, sports, texting, meeting at each other’s homes, malls, and all the rest. How is an autistic person who is not verbal, limited in initiation, independence, and the rest, going to do that? We have an isolating illness. It stops us from doing the normal social things and it makes people want to avoid us too because we are so different and so hard to engage.

I have a few suggestions for how to be a friend to an autistic person.

-Don’t patronize, even if the person seems “low-functioning”. Who knows what is trapped inside?

-Stay friendly and say “hi” even if the autistic person is not animated in expression or doesn’t say “hi” first.

-Try to imagine what non-verbal messages the person is communicating in behavior.

-Help them stop if they get too stimmy.

-Connect in the ways you can.

I see some people are able to reach through the barrier with autistic people. They are energetic, friendly, not putting up with aggressive or bad behavior, positive and calm. The worst traits for an autistic person to be around are the opposite; lazy, grumpy, weak and afraid to set limits, negative and tense. I mean, who likes being with negative, grumpy people? But in autism we get so affected by the moods of others. I think friendship is different in autism. I am friends with people without socializing in the normal way, but I hope one day my skills will improve.

Me, Nick, Sydney and Emma

I have some friends I love to see. Unfortunately I don’t live near them.I have a long drive of an hour and a half once a month to see them but I feel it’s worth it. Each of us is living in Autismland but we can all communicate in typing and letter boards. Some use i-pads. I use a dynawrite or a letter board. Each of us is living the best we can in spite of our challenges.

We all have very loving families who noticed the potential in us in spite of expert advice that preferred to see us as “low functioning”. Thanks to our parents’ hard work we are free in life. I notice we all have very persistent, positive, and determined moms who didn’t want to give in to a label that told them it was hopeless. The result is that we are their kids in all ways like any other in spite of autism. In this group I don’t have to work on acting normal. I can be autistic with people who are friends, and friends with lovely, intelligent people who are autistic.