Finding Friends Who Have Similar Interests
I know its hard to find other kids who have similar interests when your child has their focused interests. Js interests over the years have spanned garbage trucks, elevators, tornadoes, Mario Brothers and other video games. Yet, finding kids who have similar interests is one of the best ways to encourage friendships.
Maybe your childs school has clubs for various interests such as Minecraft, board games, books or other topics. Also, if your child is open to joining groups, look at other organizations such as the 4-H Club, Scouts, Special Olympics or local autism/ADHD support groups. Many of these groups can be inclusive of kids on the spectrum. Introducing your child to others in a safe environment can help them meet more kids who may have similar interests and increase the chance of finding a new friend. Our son J has connected with other kids through our local Special Olympics team and looks forward each year to running track and seeing the people on the team he has come to know over the years. He also enjoys attending a summer camp offered by our local autism support group, and he has made friends there too.
Truths About Making Friends When You Have Autism
Ive heard some harsh and untrue comments based on personal theories about people with autism making friends. Some people go so far as to claim those with autism are unable to make friends, and that comment alone is shocking. We may have difficulty making friends, but were certainly able to make friends. It needs to be the right kind of person whos willing to understand and accept the individual for who he or she is. If there were less statements about how those with autism cant make friends, I think that alone would make it easier for us to do so;and for other people to open up to us. The way the media presents autism is important, and if we can present it in the right way and help eliminate these stereotypes, things would be much better for us.
As an adult with Aspergers syndrome, the general publics perception of autism makes me want to fall into my shell and recluse myself from the world. So my advice would be to stop talking and start listening to those on the spectrum.
Recently, I asked my ;this:;Do any other Aspies struggle making and maintaining friendships?
These are some of their answers.
1.I find as you get older you learn to adapt better in social situations, but sometimes we just dont want to be social not because we are depressed we just want to be alone.Melanie Reinburg
3. I can make friends. Its maintaining them hard.;Evenstar Hebert
6. Friendships? Not a problem. Relationships, however;;Jonny Gill
How To Develop Coping Strategies
When we interact with others, we can go through feeling a variety of emotions. If something is not going our way, how do we deal with the frustration and anger? Help teach your teen effective coping strategies and ways to identify their own emotions so they can tell when they are getting frustrated.
List Of Social Skills For Autism
In order to help your child with autism make friends at school , you need to know the appropriate social skills he/she should master.
Grab this free printable pdf worksheet of autism social skills below. Enter your info to have it emailed straight to your inbox:
Save the free social skills for autism worksheet for later to refer back to and even share it with your therapists.
How To Be Friends With A Child Who Has Autism
When your kid meets a child on the autism spectrum, make sure they understand how to build a real friendship.
Julia is a four-year-old with bright orange hair, big blue eyes and a sweet singing voice. Shes also the first Muppet with autism on Sesame Streets iconic block. Relatable to kids with autism spectrum disorder , Julia and her storyline will also help children not directly touched by autism understand how to form a real friendship with someone whos a little different.
The message of the Monday April 10 debut episode, Meet Julia, is twofold: Its intended to help viewers better understand autism, a developmental disorder that currently affects 1 in 68 children. And it also acknowledges that doing so isnt always going to be easy. Even Muppets, famous for their friendliness, will face unique challenges in making friends with a kid like Juliaa kid, for that matter, like mine.
From kindergarten to grade six, my son, Jonah, whos on the autism spectrum, attended school with kids who were not. I spent much of that seven-year stretch expecting him to be bullied or ostracized or both. Only he never was. In fact, when he graduated from elementary school he received an award for Kindness to Others. This was, I like to think, a testament to his particular brand of charm but also to the kindness he was, in turn, so often shown by others.
Recommended Reading: Can A Psychologist Diagnose Autism
Extra Advice: Dating And Relationships
When you make new friends that you share a strong connection with, you may decide to try and enter a more serious relationship with that person. If thats the case, then remember to take things slowly and be perceptive of that persons feelings.
Even if you really like a person, you cant immediately expect a relationship to come from it. The key is to be patient and let the relationship develop naturally. If the situation is right, things will unfold naturally.
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.
Don’t Miss: How To Approach Someone With Autism
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.
They May Latch On To Previous Negative Experiences And Expect The Same Thing To Happen In Every Friendship
The breakdown of some friendships can lead to feelings of worthlessness, isolation and cause upset. It can be extremely difficult for a person with autism to move on from past memories and experiences, meaning that they may associate present or future social relationships with previous, negative situations.
Also Check: How Much Is A Disability Check For Autism
How To Make Friends On The Playground With Asd
The playground represents a time for having fun where children laugh, play, run around, and form friendships. However, for a child with autism the playground is like being lost in a foreign country without knowing the language. The playground is chaotic, unpredictable, loud, and over-stimulating.
We often see children with autism walking the perimeter of the playground to avoid the chaos or forming a friendship with an adult because they are more predictable than a peer. The playground is not a fun or happy place for a child with autism; in fact, it is a place to avoid.
Much of my research has taken place on the playground. For over 11 years I have observed thousands of children with and without a diagnosis play and watched for patterns in how they do it. During my years of research I discovered that children socialize through play. It is how children form friendships.
Join Local Facebook Groups
It may seem a bit cliché to recommend a Facebook group, as there is a Facebook group for practically everything, but this could be a vital step toward connecting with local parents who have kids with special needs and in finding helpful resources like social skills groups.
Those are great resources to know what is available in your community because some of these things especially more locally run social groups might not really be advertised, Martin says.
Within the group, you can try using the search function to find what youre looking for, or pose your specific question to the group. The word-of-mouth referrals in these types of circumstances are invaluable.
You can also visit the Child Mind Institutes guide to autism spectrum disorder for more articles, advice, and information for parents of children with autism.
Have a parenting dilemma youre grappling with? Email your questions to with Parental Advisory in the subject line.
You May Like: Is There Different Types Of Autism
Find Children With Similar Interests:
Ask your childs teacher or aide which peers have similar interests as your child and would make the best playmates. If your child likes to swing, we wouldnt want to pair him/her with a child who plays soccer at recess. You want to make sure your child is around other children who have similar interests, as it is through those similar interests that friendships are formed. Think about your personal friendships. Are you friends with people who share common interests with you? The same goes for your child.
Reasons People With Autism Struggle With Friendships
Social interactions can be baffling for people on the autism spectrum. They may become easily overwhelmed or frustrated when they try to develop and sustain friendships. Making friends can be frightening, confusing and anxiety-provoking for people with autism. There are various reasons why people with autism may find it challenging to make and maintain friendships.
Don’t Miss: Where To Get Autism Screening
Read More About Friendships In The Lifespan Toolbox
Were focused on friendships as a major component of ones support network for autistic adults, so weve created a Friendship Toolkit in the Lifespan Toolbox – our free resource library of toolkits for across the spectrum, across the lifespan, and across the community.
This is a 10-page toolkit, focusing on making friends, navigating existing friendships, and supporting friendships from the outside as a caregiver, professional, and community stakeholder. You can access the toolkit in 2 different formats: an interactive webpage and a printable and clickable PDF. This will make it even easier to use in whatever role you are! You can share them with individuals and families you work with, add to your resource binder, or print them.
About the Writer: Dr. Tara Regan
Dr. Regan is the Executive Director and Founder of Autism Grown Up. Shes a sibling to 2 autistic adult brothers and has been working in the autism community for over a decade through a variety of professional roles from direct care to research in schools. Whether in the online community or working within the resource center, her goal is to facilitate the free flow of ideas, information, and inspiration between stakeholders to support the autism community growing up.
Planning And Developingsocial Interaction
It might be useful to plan in times where you can either meet existing friends and family or look to meet new people. You might want to use a timetable or schedule for your week.;;
Routinescan provide reassurance and comfort, but can limit social interaction with other people. In order to overcome restrictive routines, you could plan to:;
gradually introduce change;by identifying one new place to go to every week – for example a local shop;
focus on places where it is possible to meet new people. In time, you may get to know people you see regularly;
practise a few bits of small talk, such as ‘How are you today?’. This may help to reduce your anxiety about;making contact with;people.;
Recommended Reading: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
How Parents Can Help Their Child With Autism Make Friends
When her son got diagnosed with autism, Ms. Meyers became determined to promote his social skills and help him make a few quality friends.
Some children with autism find it difficult to make friends in a large group setting such as school. One-on-one playdates let kids with similar interests develop meaningful bonds.
Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
How People With Autism Forge Friendships
Most autistic people want to and can make friends, though their relationships often have a distinctive air.
by Lydia Denworth;/;1 April 2020
It is lunchtime on a Sunday in January. At a long table inside a delicatessen in midtown Manhattan, a group of young people sit together over sandwiches and salads. Most of them have their phones out. One boy wears headphones around his neck. But there is less conversation than you might expect from a typical group of friends: One of the boys seems to talk only to himself, and a girl looks anxious and occasionally flaps her hands.
The young people in this group are all on the spectrum. They met through a program organized by the nonprofit Actionplay, in which young people with autism or other disabilities work together to write and stage a musical. Each Sunday, the members refine characters and the script, block scenes and compose songs and then some of them head across the street to have lunch together. You meet other people just like you, says Lexi Spindel, 15.
Theres a lot of swinging and missing, but when do connect, it goes out of the park. Brett Heasman
Don’t Miss: Can You See Autism In Infants
What Else Should I Know
When you’re making friends, it’s important to know when to end the conversation or say goodbye. People are ready to talk about something else, or do something else, when they give clues like these:
- not looking at you
- looking past you or around the room
- doing something else, like looking in their bookbag
- changing the subject
If it helps, practice talking to a “new friend” with your mom, dad, or other trusted adult. This way, you’ll know what to say the next time you meet someone you like. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, that’s OK. But don’t give up! There will be other chances to meet new friends.
Learn How To Initiate Conversations
The next step is learning how to initiate conversations. Oftentimes, small talk is very challenging for individuals on the autism spectrum. But, its very hard for people who are neurodiverse. That being said, its not impossible to acquire this skill, it just takes patience and knowing how to talk to people you dont know well.;
If initiating conversations is frightening to you, consider practicing these skills when you know you and the recipient share an interest. For example, you could practice initiating conversations at anime conventions, clubs, or even in a social skills group. When you share a common interest its often easier to find things to talk about.;
You May Like: Is Autism A Behavioral Disorder
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.