Did you know that about 2.2% of adults in the United States live with an autism spectrum condition? This equates to about 5.4 million people or 1 in 45 adults who are on the autism spectrum.
This is the first study conducted by the CDC to calculate an estimate of American adults living with an autism spectrum condition. Being able to determine if an individual is living with autism is crucial to providing them the support they may need.
Having an autism spectrum condition presents many obstacles for individuals, one of which is making friends. Meeting new people and forming relationships is possible, however. Keep reading to learn about the tips that can help you create bonds if you have autism.
1. Start Online
Social interactions and trying to form friendships while living with autism can prove difficult. A lot of the social behaviors of non-autistic individuals can be confusing and general anxiety about people and places can be hard to move past.
If you want to form new friendships you can start in a less intimidating space, on the internet. An online friendship can be just as meaningful as the ones you make in a more typical setting. The great thing is that you control the amount of interaction you have with a person, so conversations can become less awkward as you get to know a person.
Whether you join a group chat based on a shared hobby or join a social community for people with disabilities like Special Bridge, online friendships can be a great start to forming deeper emotional bonds with others.
2. Connect to Those Who Understand You
Some of the best friendships you form in life are with people who can empathize with the difficulties you face in life because they’ve been through similar situations. Finding a community and a place of support is the best way to make friends.
While creating a diverse friend group is important, having non-autistic friends, making friends with autism can make forming bonds easier. When you connect with others on the spectrum you won’t feel the burden of having to explain certain behaviors or fears, your friends will understand.
Joining an autism or disability group is a great way to meet others on the spectrum and make friends who function in similar ways. This space will allow you to feel normal in a world that often doesn’t.
3. Surround Yourself With Those Who Have Common Interests
This is one of the best tips for making friends, whether you have autism or not. Seeking out people who share your interests will make it easier to form bonds with others. When you share similar passions, conversations will be easier and you’ll have activities to participate in together.
If you’re a student, there are a multitude of school clubs that you can join. If you like to dance, or are a great chess player, or if you love painting, there’s probably a club you can join. Even if you aren’t a student, there are many groups you can find that are specific to one of your interests.
4. Practice Conversation Starters
While for many adults with autism making friends might be difficult at first, a great tip to follow is to practice conversations. Practicing with some people you trust can help build your confidence and make conversations with new people easier.
Ask some family members to help you with practicing eye contact and keeping an appropriate distance during the conversation. Practice listening by allowing the other person to talk about their interests and answer questions about yourself as well.
While meeting new people you might find that you don’t share many common interests but asking questions about the other person is always a great way to have a great conversation. You can also ask about some general topics most people tend to know about like movies, music, sports, video games, or pets.
5. Make a Plan to Meet New People
Making friends, for most people, might happen spontaneously. If you live with autism, however, that might not be the best way to meet new people.
Social settings might cause some extra discomfort for you so creating a schedule of the social environments you plan to visit might help calm some of your anxieties. You can make a plan to visit a new place once a month and then slowly start to increase the frequency of your visits and start to add new places to visit to your schedule as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always meet people in places that make you feel comfortable, at least when you’re first trying to make new friends. If you’re sensitive to noise, small bookstores or coffee shops are great places to meet.
6. Try a Sport
Most athletes will tell you that their closest bonds are formed on the field. Sports help form friendships because you’ll be working on a team of people aiming for a common goal. You also have to learn to trust in your team the same way you learn to trust people who become your friends.
Sports can help you learn social interaction and develop listening skills if you have an autistic spectrum condition. If you already play a sport or want to learn a new one, joining a team is a great way to meet new people and start developing friendships.
Making Friends When You Have Autism Is Easy If You Follow These Tips
Making friends when you’re autistic can be difficult but following some of the tips listed above can help. Connecting with other folks in the autistic community or finding friendships online are great ways to form new and meaningful bonds.
Special Bridge is a great community to join to find those connections you’ve been craving. Contact us with any questions you may have about our platform, we’ll be happy to help!