A lonely life: Aspergers and Friendship

One of the biggest challenges I faced, and many others with Aspergers can be making good friends.

For me it wasn’t that I didn’t know how to interact with people, I was always  liked because I was a nice guy.  It’s that I didn’t even realize that I was missing something in being invited to do things with other people.  I realize that there was no one who I always got invited to their birthday party as a child, and realize the same with bar and bat mitzahs (often going because of my parents.  As I got older I started realizing that regularly doing things with a certain group of people is a very normal thing to do, and something I should do.  I started working on seeing what I needed to do to engage in more activities with others.  Today I am a lot better at freindship than I used to be.

I saw with quite a few other people who I worked with. I saw that they didn’t have many people who they could get together with, or understood to do other things with them. One mother was surprised when her son called another boy up and had a conversation (which amazed his mother because he doesn’t usually call other boys). I also saw older individuals who I didn’t hear so much of them doing things with other people.

I have had people ask me what can be done to help an individual with aspergers make freinds. There are a few things someone can do, especially when the person is younger.

The first thing you can do is help them find things they would like to do with other people. I saw quite a few people who just sat around and didn’t do much some of the time. An effective stratagy for helping people start making freinds is finding things they like.  If they have an obsession than find an activity that can do with someone else that involves that obsession.  One idea I very much endorse is getting them board games to play.  Not only does this present a way that they can interact with other people and get better at social skills.  You should not force them to do things, but just present them oppurtunities and they will find what works for them.  I just put up a post on video games that are great for getting a child to play with others (especially if when they play with other people they get more time to play video games (if time limits are set up).

Another idea that could help them do better with friendship is to rely on a friend of yours, or a relative who lives close by who has a child your childs age.  I am stressing having them interact with people who are not aspergers for two reasons.  First Aspergers isn’t always something that can unite people (other shared intrests are often better basis for starting friendships).  Second by interacting with people who don’t have challenges in socializing the child can get someone they can see and learn from in how to do things.

A big tip is to be patient, a child may not get things so quickly.  Especially as they get older in their teens and 20 an asperger person has the abilitiy to catch up in learning about friendship.

For those who know a child or person with asperger who doesn’t understand friendship (and this applies to many other awkward things a person with a disability) one of the biggest things you can do for the person, and their parents is to be understanding, and helping when you have an oppurtunity.  To not just look down at the person, but to look at the good in that person.  Finnaly if you have a child who knows someone who has a disability teach them to do the same.  Not only will your child be doing something for someone else, you will be teaching them to make themself a mensch.

About the Author
Craig Kohn was diagnosed as a child with aspergers. Craig uses his experiences with aspergers to help others who have it and other disabilities. He works with people in person and through skype, and has a blog