Making friends as an autistic young person
Making friends and having social interaction is an important part of everyone’s life. For some autistic people making friends can be challenging and this can lead to feelings of sadness and isolation.
On the page we will have tips and advice on making friends and how you can meet new people.
- Feeling socially isolated
- Why do I feel socially isolated as an autistic young person?
- Tips for making friends as an autistic young person
- Telling new people that I’m autistic
- Conversation starters
- Maintaining friendships
- Questions to consider
You can also read this page in an easy read format.
Feeling socially isolated
Not having a friend or a group of people to hang out with can feel socially isolating. While some people enjoy their own company and don’t feel the need to make friends, others can feel lonely, vulnerable, depressed, or alienated.
Read our blog written by the Ambitious Youth Network with 10 reasons why autistic people struggle with friendships.
Why do I feel socially isolated as an autistic young person?
You may feel socially isolated for a number of different reasons.
- You may struggle to speak to new people and avoid interaction because of this.
- You may feel worried that some people will judge you for being autistic.
- You may prefer 1-1 friendships rather than being part of a group.
- You may not have found a group of people with similar interests to you.
- You might feel nervous about speaking to new people and need additional support to do this.
- You may just enjoy your own company – and that’s completely fine.
Tips for making friends as an autistic young person
We asked autistic young people from our Ambitious Youth Network what tips they had for other young people on making friends.
- Speak to someone who you know has similar interests to you. Ask them questions about their own hobbies and interests.
- Don’t try to be friends with everyone – only make friends with people that make you feel happy.
- Put yourself out there if you can and remember that people want friends just as much as you do.
- Try joining online or in person communities based around something that you really like. The Ambitious Youth Network is a great way to connect with other autistic young people.
- Try to not over analyse social situations and just be yourself!
- Ask for support from your parents. They can help you to interact with people you want to be friends with.
- Be open about your interests and passions. Everyone likes different things, but people always like to find out new things, especially if you know a lot about them and get excited!
Where can I meet new people?
There are plenty of places you can meet new people. Thanks to the internet you can also make friends with people from across the globe. Whether you prefer to meet new people in person or online, there are many different ways to meet new friends.
- Through social media
- Through online communities, like the Ambitious Youth Network
- At clubs, such as a book club or rock-climbing club
- Through your education or work.
Telling friends that you are autistic
Being autistic is something you should be proud of, and it should be celebrated. It’s a huge part of who you are as a person.
Many autistic young people are happy to tell people that they are autistic, but for others it can seem daunting, and they may worry about being judged. It’s your choice whether you tell someone you are autistic.
Starting a conversation
You might want to make friends with new people, but you might not be sure what to say to them or how to start the conversation. It can be daunting walking up to new people, but most people feel the same.
Here are some conversation starters:
Ask someone about their hobbies.
“I really enjoy playing the piano. What’s your favourite hobby ?”
Ask someone what their plans are for the weekend.
“Are you doing anything nice over the weekend? I’m going to the park with my family.”
Topics to avoid
When you first meet someone, you may want to know everything about them but there are some topics that they may not feel comfortable talking about straight away. These might include:
- how much money they earn at work
- their sexuality.
All friendships are different and depending on who you are friends with, their expectations may be different to another person's friendship expectations.
A good way to maintain friendships is to check in with your friends regularly or schedule days to meet up in advance so you both have something to look forward to.
Questions to consider
- What people in my life make me feel happy?
- What qualities do I like in other people?
- How do I like to spend my free time?
Everyone deserves to have people in their life that make them happy.
You can sign up to our Ambitious Youth Network to access support and meet other autistic young people.