6 Tips for Making Friends as a Teen With Autism

Your personality can have a big impact on how easy it is to make friends. Some people are naturally outgoing, while others are naturally shy. Fortunately  anyone can make friends. Autism and friendship can be challenging, but these tips will help! 

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What Type of Friend Should You Look For?

Before we talk about how to make friends, let’s figure out what type of friend you want. One thing to look for is someone who likes what you like. If you love fantasy stories, find someone who loves dragons and wizards! If you prefer to make drawings and artwork, find someone creative.

Similar hobbies are a good place to start, but there’s more to a great friendship. You should also think about the personality of your friend. Find a friend who you enjoy being around. You may like being with them because they’re caring or they smile. 

Even if someone likes the same things you do, you shouldn’t be friends with them if they aren’t kind to you. If you ever meet a bully or someone who teases you, ignore them and don’t engage with them.

Our Tips for Making Friends

Now that you know what to look for in a friend, how do you start making friends?  Ability Life Solutions has a few ideas to improve your social skills as a teen with autism:

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Manage Your Anxiety

Sometimes, it feels scarier to think about making a new friend than it actually is. This kind of anxiety can hold you back from making friends, but you can overcome it. When you start feeling nervous, there are a few tips that can help you manage your stress.

You can try breathing exercises to calm you down. Take a deep breath through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth.

One of the best ways to deal with stress is by exercising. Exercise creates feel-good hormones in your brain that reduce stress. 

Learn How to Start Conversations

For some people, beginning a conversation can feel stressful or intimidating. You may not know what to say, and that can lead to awkward silences. First, remember that pauses in conversation are okay! When you’re first getting to know someone, you shouldn’t expect a smooth talk because you don’t know them well yet.

Once you accept that silences are natural, there are a few things you can do to start a conversation:

Begin with a nice greeting like “Hello!”

Remember to smile.

Give a compliment, like “I like your t-shirt.”

Ask your friend about themselves. You might ask:

“What do you like to do after school?”

“Do you play any sports?”

“What is your favorite movie?”

Or try these conversation starters!

You can find something in common with anyone. When you figure out something that you and your new friend both like, talk about that!

Be a Good Listener

A friendship should be good for both people. Sometimes when a person gets excited about something, they can take over the conversation. This can make the other person feel left out.

Instead, try to let the conversation be even. When your friend wants to talk, pay attention and listen to what they say. This helps them feel like a valuable part of the relationship. This is also a great way to keep conversations going. When your friend is finished talking, you can ask follow-up questions for more information. 

Be Dependable

Once you get past the first conversation, you should remember to be a dependable friend. This means that when you agree to do something with your friend, you stay true to your word. For example, if your friend asks for help on an art project and you agree, you should do your best to help your friend. This tells your new friend that they can rely on you.

Also, if you agree to meet your friend at a certain time, make sure you arrive punctually (getting there a few minutes early is always a good idea).

Approach Disagreements Respectfully

Everyone is different, so you will probably disagree with your friend at some point. You may disagree on something unimportant, like your favorite color, or you could disagree about something more significant. Regardless of your disagreement, be respectful. It is okay to have different opinions than your friend as long as you both treat each other with kindness. 

Be Yourself

Finally, you should always feel comfortable enough to be yourself. A real friend will accept you for who you truly are—you should never feel the need to change yourself to stay friends with someone. Remember to accept your new friend for who they are, as well. Differences make us all unique and wonderful!

And maybe if you and your new friend really enjoy being together, friendship can turn into love on the spectrum.

A group of six people taking a selfie

If you need extra help with making friends, contact your friends at Ability Life Solutions for a consultation.
Now that you have several ideas on how to manage your autism and friendship skills, it’s time to start making new friends! We want to know how it’s going, so connect with us on Facebook. You’re sure to make new friends from our community!

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