An Autistic Adult’s Guide to Making Friends and Connections!

Last Update on April 1, 2024 : Published on April 2, 2024

The need is real; to form connections and feel a sense of belonging. We all crave friendships, those bonds that offer support, laughter, and love. But for neurodivergent people and autistic adults, making friends and creating social connections can be like wading through murky waters.

This is because autism, a neurodevelopmental difference, impacts how we process information, take social cues, interact with others, and relate to them. Social cues, in any case, can be confusing and small talk can be overwhelming. Throw in neurodivergence and you’ve got yourself an unsolvable puzzle.

Yet, with understanding and some helpful tips, making friends as an autistic adult can be achievable. I know it’s hard to believe, but if you’re here, then you trust me to help you. That’s what I’m going to do! Keep reading to explore friendship tips and tricks to make friends as autistic adults.

Neurodiversity & Autism

First, let’s understand what it means to be neurodivergent or autistic. Neurodiversity refers to the natural variation in human brains and nervous systems. Autistic people experience the world a little differently than neurotypical people – who make up the majority of the population. This little difference can manifest in many ways.

One is in social challenges. A neurodivergent or autistic adult can face difficulty with non-verbal communication, like interpreting facial expressions or understanding sarcasm. Social situations can feel draining and an autistic person might need some alone time to recharge, which can’t be understood by everyone as is.

Another challenge an autistic adult might face is their senses. Sensory sensitivities such as bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells can be overwhelming for many autistic people.

Suppose you’re a regular watcher of K-dramas or have spent the majority of your time with someone who watches them. In that case, you’ll know about “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” – a TV series where the main character is a neurodivergent person (with Asperger’s syndrome). The one thing the character likes doing is following her routine. She rarely diverts from her routine and loves talking about her passion – Whales!

Now, why am I telling you all this? Well, many autistic adults have passions and routines that they follow and can talk about for hours. They find comfort in familiar routines. This is another way neurodiversity impacts a person’s daily activities.

It’s important to remember that autism exists on a spectrum, and every autistic person experiences things differently. You can’t put a person under the same autistic personality as others. Some autistic adults are adept at making friends and can be outgoing, while others might prefer solitude and quieter interactions.

So, if you’re an autistic adult and find it hard to make friends, don’t worry. Here are some tips on making friends as an autistic adult.

Making Friends as an Autistic Adult

1. Find People With Shared Interests

One of the best ways to connect with people and make friends is through shared passions. Love anime? Talking about gothic architecture? Playing bass? Look for clubs and groups – or online forums – where you can find people who share your interests. Meeting people who love what you love can be a great way to break the ice and find common ground to become friends.

2. Try Making Friends Online

With the internet, it’s become easier to connect with people – without leaving the comfort of your home. As an autistic adult, use this as your leverage. Online communities and forums can give you a safe space to connect with others who are similar to you. You can share your experiences, discuss common interests, ask questions, and build friendships without the hassles of a face-to-face conversation.

Also Read: Fire Up A Fantastic Conversation With These Five Ways

3. Don’t Hide Your Autistic Powers

If you feel comfortable, then be open about your autism. Let your potential friends know you’re autistic or neurodivergent. This can be your power and create a space for understanding and community. You can explain that you process information differently or find social interactions tiring. An open approach to making friends can kick-start genuine friendships based on mutual respect.

4. It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

In my teens, I used to envy those big social groups, but as I grew up, I realized that having a small group of friends is more fulfilling than having a large group of casual acquaintances. That’s what you need to do too if you’re an autistic adult. Don’t feel pressured to have a large social network. Focus on genuine connections who appreciate you for who you are.

5. Communication Doesn’t Have to be Verbal

As an autistic person, you might find it hard to communicate your needs and desires verbally. What you need to remember is that there are other ways to communicate and connect. Share a funny meme, show your coolest possession, or invite a potential friend to an activity you can enjoy. These little non-verbal gestures can speak volumes.

6. Take Breaks. It’s OK

Social interactions can be draining for you if you’re an autistic adult. So, take breaks. Do not feel guilty for wanting some time alone to recharge. Plan your outings beforehand and communicate your limits and boundaries with your friends. A good friend will understand what you need and will not feel offended if you take a break from socializing.

7. Be Kind to Yourself

Making friends as an autistic adult can take time and effort. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t make friends overnight. Take your time, celebrate small social wins, and focus on moving one step a day at a time. You’re worthy of finding connections, and the right kind of friends will appreciate your qualities.

8. Ask For Help

If you’re struggling with social interactions, then don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources available. Consider joining a social skills group or speaking to a therapist. There’s no harm (or shame!) in asking for help. The best thing is that, with therapy and skill training, you can find tools to work on your social conversations and find meaningful friendships.

9. Be Proud of Yourself

Being autistic isn’t something you need to feel ashamed of. It’s that part of you that makes you…YOU! Your uniqueness, your interests, and your passions are worth every bit of attention and love. Be proud of who you are and let your autism be your superpower in social circles.

10. Celebrate Each Step!

Making friends as an autistic adult means holding conversations without feeling overwhelmed or initiating conversation in the first place! If you’ve been there, done that – then it’s a victory you need to celebrate. Take time to acknowledge your progress and appreciate your effort in creating meaningful and genuine friendships.

Wrap Up…

Making friends as an autistic adult can be challenging, but fulfilling. Filled with laughter, shared interests, and a sense of belonging can make every interaction seem worthwhile. By knowing your needs, accepting your passions, and using the friendship tips I mentioned, you can have a fulfilling social life where genuine connections thrive.

Friends (and friendships) come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be scared. Put yourself out there and let your superpower – your neurodivergence and autism – speak for itself.

Bonus Tip! Be a good friend. Know that friendship is two-way; practice active listening, show genuine interest in your friends’ lives, and be supportive. With just a bit of effort and empathy, you can create lasting bonds that will enrich your life and make it a little brighter – one day at a time.

Did these friendship tips help you make friends as an autistic adult? Let us know how we did in helping you in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On