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4 Steps to Building Friendships for Young Adults with Autism

4 Steps to Building Friendships for Young Adults with Autism

As a young adult with autism, you are well aware at this point that maintaining friendships can greatly increase your quality of life, while reducing isolation and loneliness. 

However, beginning those friendships can be overwhelming for many young adults, especially those on the autism spectrum. Often, . Or, you are still honing social skills those around you appear to have mastered.

By being more intentional with friendship-making efforts, you can enhance your social skills and start to build those sought-after relationships.

Why Autistic Adults Can Experience Difficulty Making Friends

Establishing friendships includes many factors that a neurodiverse individual may struggle with. After a lifetime of social experiences that may have ended with unintended consequences, many adults with autism fear putting themselves out there or being vulnerable again. You can’t predict the responses you will receive when you begin a conversation, which can be anxiety-provoking. 

In addition, you may experience , which are integral parts of the beginning of a friendship. During the conversation, you might find yourself worrying in your head if the person likes you, causing you to miss what they are saying. 

If you have spent a lot of time working on social skills and masking your autism, you are holding in underlying anxiety, and not allowing the other person to get to know your authentic self. Being vulnerable is crucial to lasting friendship.

If you find putting yourself out there to be overwhelming, take a look at these steps to ease the process.

  1. Be Intentional With Your Routine

Routines are helpful, as they can make you feel secure and comfortable on a day-to-day basis. However, . Incorporating intentional social time into your regular routine can make motivating yourself to get out there easier. 

  1. Work Towards Managing Your Anxiety

Anxiety can play a major role in preventing anyone from socializing. Most people second guess themselves and what they say at times. Those on the autism spectrum may enter any new friendship feeling at a disadvantage, and become hyper focused on the risks social interactions entail.

Working on mindfulness can help you become more present and feel more comfortable instead of getting lost in your mind to anxiety. Remembering strategies you have been taught in order to regulate prior to entering a social environment can make it a little easier. Take deep breaths, keep a fidget toy in your pocket, count, watch a video of interest, or go for a walk before meeting new people. 

  1. Find A Group With Common Interests

Finding a person with a related interest can make conversations and building a friendship significantly easier. Consider joining a group focusing on a topic you like, such as a book club, a gaming group, or a sports team. You will have instant sources of conversation both of you will love talking about. 

Initiating conversations can also become a more accessible skill. For instance, at a book club, you could ask someone which book is their favorite. As part of a sports team, you could ask which teams they follow. 

  1. Join A Social Skills Group Or Support Group

If you feel like you need more direct support, search for a social skills group focused on young adults. Beyond breaking down these skills into specific steps to take, and guiding you to gain more self-esteem, these groups often include social outings. Even if they don’t, talking to the group members on a regular, routine basis will spark friendships over time.

Support groups for autistic adults can help you meet others who might understand the challenges you face or how you approach friendship. You may feel more comfortable opening up with others who think a little more like you do.

Our °®¶¹´«Ã½app residential program, intended as a transition for young adults, intentionally includes socialization and social experiences in our programming. We know it can be difficult for some of our residents to begin friendships, so we specifically work to help them gain a supportive community and avoid the isolation that often comes post-high school. If you are interested in our program and how it serves young adults on the autism spectrum, reach out here.



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