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How To Make Friends When You Have Autism

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How To Make Friends When You Have Autism

Most kids are more relaxed in their home environment, which makes them able to better focus on social interaction. Try to plan activities that encourage cooperative play, but dont be discouraged if your child doesnt seem to engage or relate to the other child. Parallel play can still help form a bond between kids, particularly at young ages.

Use This Simple Guide To Discover How To Help Your Autistic Child Make Friends Using Social Skills

Many parents of children with aspergers syndrome and autism spectrum disorder report that their autistic son or daughter has no friends.

In the back of our minds, at every school conference, every IEP meeting, every school function we worry about helping our autistic child make friends just as much as academic performance.

It might even be reported to us from school that our child with autism has social interaction problems with peers.

To a certain extent, it is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder to have social difficulties.

Nonetheless, we parents are always on a quest for how to help our autistic child with social skills.

Invest In Others If You Want Them To Invest In You

All relationships take time and effort. When you dont engage with people, relationships wither. This means keeping in touch once in a while. Talking about things besides your common interests. Asking about their family or things that are going on in their lives that they mention. Recognize upfront this is going to take some work, but you dont have to do all of it right away.

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Decide On Your Boundaries

We all have a right to decide what kind of behavior we will and wont accept from other people. Boundary setting is an important skill for everyone. If you have AS, your boundaries may be slightly different from most other people. To prevent awkward moments, its a good idea to practice setting and defending boundaries.

For example, some people with AS have touch aversion. This means they do not like being touched or only enjoy certain types of touch in very specific circumstances. If you have this kind of aversion, it might be a good idea to practice verbalizing boundaries.

For instance:

  • Im not a person who likes hugs, so Id prefer it if you didnt touch me. What about a high-five instead?
  • Please do not touch me. I need plenty of personal space.

If someone cant respect your boundaries, they are the one in the wrong, not you. People who do not make allowances for others are not usually good friends.

Break Down The Event Or Thing Into Simple Steps

How To Make Friends When You Have Autism

Try to think of every step possible involved in a certain event or skill and try to include each step in the social story. Since kids with autism are literal thinkers and struggle with abstract concepts, it is best to even include the hidden implied steps that neurotypical people generally take for granted. For instance, when using the potty, specify that we have to pull down our underwear and pants and then when we are done, pull up our underwear and pants.

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Focus On Quality Not Quantity

Even if your child has just one buddy, this is a reason to celebrate and be grateful. Foster that relationship in any way you can. My son had only one pal for many years, but that friendship built the foundation for future ones. It showed him that other kids were fun and that was hugely consequential.

Dr. Cindy Ariel, a psychologist who counsels parents with children on the autism spectrum, tells them to refrain from comparing their childhood experiences to their youngsters. Most likely, their kid will not be as popular or as social as they were. Being around their peers will probably be less invigorating and more draining for their child than what they had known. Dr. Ariel says that this shouldnt be a cause for concern or make them sad that their child lacks a big posse of pals. She explains, “Many people are fine with only one or two close friends and feel much more comfortable living this way.”

Appreciate The Value Of Playdates

When my son was a preschooler, setting up regular playdates for him with a carefully chosen friend was critical for promoting his social skills. It required a lot of effort on my part but was well worth it. These one-on-one get-togethers helped him form close connections that weren’t being made in large groups at preschool and playgroup.

Sylvia Ford, an early childhood consultant, says “the parent needs to make an investment in the playdate for it to succeed.” She advises moms and dads to plan activities in advance so the childrens time together is optimized. Whether it’s whipping up a batch of play dough, preparing a craft for them to make, putting toys in the sandbox, or simply pulling out blocks and Hot Wheels from the closet, it’s beneficial to have a game plan.

This excellent video offers practical advice for how to host a successful playdate when one child has autism and the other doesn’t.

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Never Alone: How To Make New Friends While Living With Autism

Autism affects over 3.5 million individuals in the world, many of whom seek the same comforts as everybody else around them. One of the biggest of these is meaningful relationships with other people.

When youre living with autism, making new friends can be a challenge. However, its certainly possible.

Read on for our guide on how to make new friends when youre living with autism.

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The Secret to Making Friends if You Have Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome

If youre interested in learning more strategies to work on being vulnerable, initiating conversations, and validate others, then I encourage you to consider autism therapy. Specifically joining a social skills group can be very helpful. For example, our social skills groups in California practice these three skills at length. Our hope is that you will feel comfortable learning and practicing these skills with peers who are dealing with similar challenges and are in similar stages of their life because they will truly get what youre dealing with.

If youre an individual with high-functioning autism and live in California, then we have a variety of social skills groups to help you practice the social skills necessary to make and maintain friendships. Currently, were offering the following online social skills groups:

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Encourage Games That Stimulate Conversation

Like many children on the autism spectrum, my son would have played computer games each day for hours if I had allowed it. Technology was a world where he felt safe, comfortable, and competent. In limited amounts, his intervals on the computer were a positive thing, especially after a long day at school when he was drained from social interaction and needed some solitary downtime. However, to fully optimize his playdates, I enforced a strict rule that there would be no screens when a friend was at our home.

Instead, this precious time was set aside with the goal of improving my son’s communication abilities as well as his social skills. Having him and his buddy play board games was an excellent way to achieve these aims. When they were preschoolers and kindergartners, they needed games with simple rules that required little or no reading and worked well with two players. Favorites included: Don’t Break the Ice, Hi-Ho Cheerio, Pop-Up Pirate, and Don’t Spill the Beans . When he and his buddies were in elementary school, good games involved conversation, strategy, and problem-solving. Favorites included: Monopoly, Blokus, Clue, Checkers, Battleship, and Risk.

Excellent Ways To Help Your Asd Child Make Friends

Friendships have an important role to play in our overall well-being and quality of life.

Unfortunately, many children with autism do not establish friendships and continue to have difficulties doing so once they get into their teen years. A recent study in the Journal of Autism, reported that teenagers and adults who have a diagnosis of autism may be less likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety if they have friends. Having friends just appears to make our lives better! It goes without saying, then, that it is critical that we begin to support and encourage our children with autism to develop friendships as early as possible.

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Helping Your Child To Choose Friends

Children with autism or Aspergers syndrome often appear to have a one-dimensional view of their own personality or that of others. When asked to what they or themselves or other children are like, descriptions relating to height, age or appearance are used. If personality is described, it will tend to focus simply on whether someone is ‘nice’ or not.

Non-autistic children usually are quick to intuitively learn about the personalities of others. They pick up the inclination of other children to be chatty, naughty in the classroom, friendly, manipulative or angry. Children on the spectrum often miss these cues and may try to form friendships with children who aren’t suited to them. Tony Attwood recommends using the popular Mr. Men stories by Roger Hargreaves which describe a range of personality types such as Little Miss Chatterbox and Mr. Nosey and Mr. Grumpy.

A visual way parents can help their child to identify the personality traits of other children is getting their child to select an animal they feel represents someone’s personality. Parents can play a constructive role in their child’s life by encouraging them to analyze the personalities of others so that they can choose more appropriate friends as they get older.

Make Friends With Yourself

Making Friends When You Have Autism

When we are anxious around other people, they may pick up on that and become anxious around us. We end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which we expect to be rejected, and therefore we are.

This is the hardest step, but the most critical. It starts with digging deep inside yourself and letting out all of the anger and hurt from the past, and finding a way to forgive or feel compassion toward yourself and others for what happened.

That frees up an amazing amount of energy and opens new possibilities for liking, and even loving, who you are. When you genuinely love yourself, it shows. People like being around people who like themselves. Even when those people are different.

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There Is A Constant Expectation To Maintain The Friendship

Keeping in contact with friends can be difficult because people on the autism spectrum may not know how often to contact their friend, and may become upset and disappointed if their friend doesnt reply for whatever reason. This may cause overwhelming anxiety and frustration. They may also worry if their friend doesnt message them very often because they may think they are purposely distancing themselves.

Learn How To Make Eye Contact

Problems making eye contact is a hallmark of AS, but you can train yourself to do it. One trick is to look at the other persons iris when youre speaking to them. Studying the color and texture of someones eyes can be easier than just trying to look at them directly. For more tips, see this guide to making confident eye contact.

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Learning To Ask Questions

Children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome often lack the ‘give and take’ of conversations. They may dominate a conversation, and only talk about their own interests. A crucial skill they need to learn is to spend time listening to others, realizing that other children have their interests too, and asking questions about their interests. One example is to make a game of question and answers, where the parent and child take turns asking questions about each other and providing a short answer. This can be explained to the child that a good conversation is where both people get to share the talking equally.

Another suggestion is to make a game out of asking questions. This can be developed as a game where the child is a famous journalist or interviewer. At first, you may give your child a list of easy questions to ask such as age, work, school or hobbies to suit the person they are interviewing. Asking questions can be rewarded by the child seeing their results form the front page of their very own newspaper, or if you have the skills and equipment, videotape the exchange and make your own news channel. With time, you can encourage your child to ‘interview’ others at school or in the neighborhood and generalize these new listening and questioning skills to all areas of their life.

Consider Telling Friends That You Have As


You dont have to tell someone you have AS. But sometimes it can help. For example, if your friend knows you are sensitive to bright lights or that you dislike large crowds, they can choose social activities and plan events that are more likely to suit you.

Keep a list of links to online resources that explain what AS is and how it affects those who have it. If you cant find any resources you like, make a list or guide of your own.

It helps to rehearse a few sentences you can use. For example:

Id like to tell you something about me. I have a form of autism called Aspergers Syndrome. It affects how I see the world and interact with other people. I think it would be useful to talk about it with you because it could help us understand each other a bit better. Would you be up for talking about it?

Remember that your friend may know absolutely nothing about AS. They might have a lot of questions, so its a good idea to allow some time for a follow-up conversation.

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Making Friends Isnt Always Easy And Can Be Especially Challenging For Kids With Autism

An important part of making friends comes from having age-appropriate social skills, which many kids who have autism struggle with. Imagine trying to make friends when you have trouble reading social cues, like body language, facial expressions and tones of voice. Thats part of the reason approximately 52 percent of kids with autism spectrum disorder dont have many friends at school.

But kids who have autism, just like all kids, benefit from having friends in their peer groups. Dont worry, there are steps you can take to support your child in making a new friend.

1. Help your child understand what a friend is

This may seem basic, but you child needs to know what a friend is. She cant be a friend unless she can explain what one is. Keep things simple. Ask questions like, Do you like being around people who call you names? and Do you like being around people who say nice things to you? Understanding abstract concepts can be challenging for young kids, especially those with autism. Be literal when you can. Use clear, plain language like, friends are nice to you and say things that make you feel better when you have a bad day.

2. Visual models like social stories

Children with autism often learn better when they can see or read what theyre supposed to do. Social stories guide a child through a specific situation using pictures and words. Writing a script or drawing out the flow of a conversation can help your child understand the basics of how to talk to a friend.

Teach Your Child About Nonverbal Communication

Some children with autism struggle mightily with social communication. They’re not plugged into the reality that people convey their thoughts and feelings in ways other than words. Therefore, they often miss out on nonverbal cues that get conveyed through someones facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, posture, eye contact, and tone of voice.

Playdates with just two children allow for teachable moments when a parent can point out examples of nonverbal communication. For example, they can say: Look at his face. His scowling on you. That means he’s mad…Look at her signaling for you to come. She wants to play with you in the sandbox…He’s stomping his feet. That means that he’s upset about losing the game.

. He writes, “Good communication is the foundation of any successful relationshipand nonverbal communication speaks the loudest… The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication is a powerful tool that can help children connect with others, express what they really mean, and build better relationships.”

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Keep Up With The Trends

Clearly, a key part of making friends is improving the quality of your conversation. Doing this helps you interact with people for long enough to get to the point where you can build a friendship. One way to make sure you can sustain a conversation is to keep up with language trends, like slang, sarcasm, and different types of humor.

Even if you dont feel comfortable using it yourself, understanding slang can be particularly helpful for young people and young adults with AS. Dont feel embarrassed about googling what certain words or phrases mean. Remember, the people who use them didnt know what they meant when they first heard them either. This way, you avoid any awkwardness or confusion that may come from not knowing.

Strategies For Helping A Child With Autism Make Friends

How to Make Neurotypical Friends in College if YOU have ...
  • Focus on quality, not quantity
  • Appreciate the value of playdates
  • Play board games that stimulate conversation
  • Don’t get discouraged when other parents don’t reciprocate
  • Keep your friends and your child’s friends separate
  • Don’t compare your child to how you were as a kid
  • Teach your child about nonverbal communication
  • Read read read!
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