Saturday, September 17, 2011

Autism and Friendship

In friendship there is give and take, easy talk, shared interests, and socializing. I see the way my sister is with her friends. I can’t do what they do. I’m not referring to girl stuff. I mean the social stuff they do.; talking on the phone, sports, texting, meeting at each other’s homes, malls, and all the rest. How is an autistic person who is not verbal, limited in initiation, independence, and the rest, going to do that? We have an isolating illness. It stops us from doing the normal social things and it makes people want to avoid us too because we are so different and so hard to engage.

I have a few suggestions for how to be a friend to an autistic person.

-Don’t patronize, even if the person seems “low-functioning”. Who knows what is trapped inside?

-Stay friendly and say “hi” even if the autistic person is not animated in expression or doesn’t say “hi” first.

-Try to imagine what non-verbal messages the person is communicating in behavior.

-Help them stop if they get too stimmy.

-Connect in the ways you can.

I see some people are able to reach through the barrier with autistic people. They are energetic, friendly, not putting up with aggressive or bad behavior, positive and calm. The worst traits for an autistic person to be around are the opposite; lazy, grumpy, weak and afraid to set limits, negative and tense. I mean, who likes being with negative, grumpy people? But in autism we get so affected by the moods of others. I think friendship is different in autism. I am friends with people without socializing in the normal way, but I hope one day my skills will improve.

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