Making Friends

An adult autistic expressed pain that yet another attempt at friendship had failed. She thought she had found a woman with whom she could enjoy walking (for excercize) and that walking together would form the basis for friendship. After a few contacts of this sort, the other (NT) woman became hard to get hold of, evasive, and generally gave indirect indications that she was not intereted.

I commented:

Here comes what I always say, every time this topic comes up: The only way for me (and, I suspect, many other AS/HFA people) to make friends is by being involved in working with other people on a project of mutual interest. It has to be a long-term project that brings people together again and again and again over a long time. And it has to be enough work that it remains the focus for everybody. And everybody has to really care about it.

Under those conditions, people stay involved because they care about what they/we are doing. And they have something to focus on other than my lacks and mistakes in social interaction. And, over time, they gradually get to appreciate my mind and abilities, while at the same time they are becoming used to (and less bothered by) my "oddities." Their commitment to the project sort of carries over to me, so that they end up feeling connected to me through feeling connected to the project. Plus, they have some investment in perceiving me as "okay" because I am "like them" in being so committed to the project.

I have no idea how the parent of a young child could be part of such a working-group. But I suspect never the less that it is the only way to make a friend. Walking is something to do, but it's not much of a focus. You still have to talk about something (other than walking), and there is no strong non-you focus for the other person(s), no chance for you to "shine" in contributing to a project, etc., etc., etc.