OK, we all know that adults with autism or Asperger’s syndrome have trouble making friends – and if you are an adult with Asperger’s, this is probably sounding pretty familiar by now! But let’s now talk about ways to solve all of the problems of building friendships.
Yes, it is hard to make friends if you are an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. Yes, it’s lonely. But there ARE things that can help. There are organizations Spectrum Email that can help; and tools and strategies that can help. Let’s talk about some of them.
Local Asperger’s Support Groups
The first line of defense, so to speak, for adults wanting to make friends should be Asperger’s groups and organizations dedicated to such things. This is because Aspies will tend to get along better with other Aspies as a general rule. It is wonderful to meet other people who think the same way you do, act the same way you do, talk the same way, and just generally understand you. Now, there is diversity in the Aspie population just like in the rest of the world. You won’t automatically get along with every Aspie in the world, but you do have a much, much better chance. You can find someone who shares your interests, someone who wants to “be” and interact in the same way that you want to.
Many of these organizations run support groups for adults with Asperger’s; some can put you in touch with others with Asperger’s syndrome.
Find a Group in Your City
Many cities have their own Asperger’s groups and meetings. These are definitely worth finding. Washington, DC, for example has a very large group called “Asperger Adults of Greater Washington,” or AAGW. It has almost forty people come to meetings every month. Most groups are not nearly that big. They meet in one corner of a tea cafe once a month. At the beginning, they have social time for their members to talk with each other-then they sometimes have a speaker or a discussion topic, and more free form social time at the end.
Every group for Aspies is run differently. Some focus on just free time for conversation, some are all speakers, some discussion based, some are more therapy oriented. Some only have as few as 4 members; others, like AAGW, could have as many as forty.
The wonderful thing about these groups is people are usually very nonjudgmental. You can feel safe there, safe to be yourself. If you fidget a lot and can’t look anyone in the eyes, no one will care. If you talk about trains all day, they will understand. If you have too much anxiety to talk but just want to sit and listen, they will be glad to have you there. Whatever your level of functioning and way of being in the world, at an Aspie group you will be greeted sincerely. Most people are very friendly, although of course it depends on the person and group; and you will feel welcome. You will recognize yourself in others. You will feel less alone.