Personally, it was not easy for me to make friends at first. I didn’t even know how to approach people if I wanted to become friends with them. I thank my middle school speech language pathologist to this day for her social skills program. Her program helped me learn about friendships that I even made my own first group of friends in middle school which is still strong today:
I can’t forget about my camp friends most of all because even after more than ten years of lost contact, we reconnected right in time for my 21st birthday:
Back in my camp days, I was put into a group with girls with disabilities. I met Dani and Gabby way back in 2005, when I was 7 years old. I shared in a blog story a while ago about my camp days, but a great friendship just grew on its own beyond camp years. Nowadays, I still spend time with Dani and Gabby over video chat. Gabby visited me in FL once already last year, so I can’t wait for her and Dani to visit me together someday. As you can tell, I’ve learned to create good friendships in my life. All of my friends are supportive and accepting of me, which is why I love them as my best friends.
Based on this, I’ve learned friendships develop from the following skills: realistic and flexibility thinking, play skills, developing special interests, understanding emotions and empathy, creating personal boundaries, conversation skills, sharing, and turn taking skills. Without these pre-requisites, friendships would not occur. I will dive more into these skills and approaches in the next few blog stories.
Parents, teachers, and therapists, how would you teach autistic people to make friends? Autistic self-advocates, how have you learned to navigate friendships? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section!