Junior High West
Dignity & Respect, Equality, Independence, Open Topic

Can We Really Be a Friend?

For many in the autism community, we want someone to be our friend. Sometimes, I have been told that it takes us the person ourselves to be a friend to someone else. It is difficult for many people with autism to do and can become very taxing at times to have a return effect. All we want sometimes is for someone to be there for us, however after investing a lot of energy it can seem difficult when little energy by the other party is given.

It isn’t that I don’t bash having friends. In the way the autistic brain works, it is difficult to put the energy into every calculated move like moving chess pieces on a chess board as to whether the other party will be pleased or unhappy. Many times, I just want to have friends with someone that understands my struggles. However, there has to be a delicate balance of investing in their struggles as well because friends should be a mutual thing. To an autistic person, this can be difficult and taxing because we can have enough struggle keeping our own emotions in check, while feeding off other’s emotions and maintaining social construct.

The alternative of being lonely isn’t the greatest either. Loneliness and isolation make the mind brew continually oftentimes in a negative sense of mind and can be challenging to get through the day or even every hour. If a person with autism relies on their family for supports or lives with them, this can be challenging to them as well because often they want the best for them and they are in peril with want to do. However, they want their child’s mental health to be in check too.

We cannot disvalue the other party sometimes, especially in adolescence. Growing up, I shared a fair land of bullying and this can even happen in adulthood in programming and workplaces. We don’t want to the snitch and get the person in trouble. Sometimes the way we communicate things can be a mixed reading for others that don’t understand how we operate. Sometimes the things we say can offend the other party and cause them to report us to authority. This is when we as autistic persons have to understand what is appropriate conversation versus what is not to be said to others. If we do it, we must learn from the instance and not dwell on it too much.

Children and adults are more of a target to bullying than their neurotypical peers. It isn’t a easy pill to swallow, but we do get our fair share in what is already a sea of bullying humanity, It can be very difficult to find a genuine friend out there because not many understand autism, given the many ways out diagnosis operates and the uniqueness from person to person. Understand that it isn’t your fault and within time you will come across that genuine friend.

There is no conclusion that two autistic friends are compatible. It may be a recipe for success as much as it could be a recipe for disaster because no two persons with autism are the same. This means we all have very different reactions, interests, etc. It can be that one just rolls with the other because of being told they need this friendship. I have been there and it can be a comprising position to be in because it isn’t genuine. Do your research. Some individuals have social media tools, which can be a valuable resource for determining what one is interested in and what they like.

I encourage any person with autism that is looking to have friendship with someone to do their research and be mentally prepared. We just want to have someone to appreciate us and belong to something. However, when it becomes taxing on our mental health, It can make us have a negative response to the other party that can destroy that friendship. Yes, you have to be a friend too, but it isn’t good when it destroys your mental state. You must put your mental health first because without it, you have no health.

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