Making friends is easy for some, but a struggle for others. It is a skill, not a natural talent. Young adults with Autism (ASD) are notorious for having limited social skills. As a result, building meaningful relationships is challenging. More than 50% do not have friends at work. Why is this?
Young adults on the autism spectrum often have difficulties with high-level language skills. This includes problem-solving, verbal reasoning, and making predictions. As a result, they experience challenges in understanding situations from another person’s point of view. Situations can escalate, making maintaining social interactions difficult.
What are the challenges?
An ASD diagnosis impacts behavioral, information processing, and sensory aspects of life facing young adults in a variety of situations. Restricted and repetitive interests can make small changes in routine and interaction stressful. As a result, they often prefer familiar environments with predictable routines. Predictable interactions are sought as well. It doesn’t always happen.
The first step is to learn what a “real friend looks like.
- Chill out
- Cheer up
- People to have fun with
- Likes you for being you
- Stands up when others attack
People with Autism can lack social skills, which results from difficulty reading body language and facial expressions. Being ostracized by peers, they are likely to have low self-esteem.
Unfortunately, adults on the spectrum know that they have been labeled their entire lives. This situation has taught them they have fewer friends than their family and colleagues. They may also know that they’re more likely to be bullied. As adults, they’re more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Reaching Out to Peers
- What is a friend?
- Can your friend keep things private?
- Does your friend explain abstract concepts?
- Is your friend nice, make you feel good?
- Are you able to understand which behaviors are acceptable?
Watching a loved one not make friends can be heartbreaking. Encourage them by surrounding them with people with similar interests. Picture, picture, picture what interaction takes place. Practice, practice, practice being an understanding friend (repetition).
Childhood memories often come fleeting back. People making fun of the autistic student. Being bullied. Remember…
Help Comes From Within
- Be open about your interests and passions. What do you have in common?
- Practice small talk with “safe” people.
- Learn a new skill, maybe with a group.
- Use conversation starters (How, What).
- Be careful of topics to avoid (money, religion, age).
Social situations can be overwhelming. Times can change. Get out and do things that require social interaction. Include hobbies and a variety of activities that they find interesting. There’s always hope. And remember…Don’t try to make friends with everyone you meet. Only make friends with people who make you feel happy.
Copyright © 2023 by Edna Brown. All Rights Reserved.