They may become easily overwhelmed or frustrated when they try to develop and sustain friendships. Making friends can be frightening, confusing and anxiety-provoking for autistic young people. There are various reasons why people with autism may find it challenging to make and maintain friendships.
Often individuals with autism struggle to make friends because they're fearful of being vulnerable, experiencing social anxiety, and struggle with the social skills necessary to make new friends.
(2004) on peer relationships in autistic adolescents found 20.9% had at least one friendship with shared activities, but only 8.1% had one close reciprocal friendship, and almost half had no peer relationships at all.
It can affect anyone but autistic people are more likely to experience loneliness than non-autistic people. Finding ways to engage with others, in a way that works best for you, can help you to feel less lonely.
The patterns of these relationships are like those of autistic girls – autistic women tend to have one or two close, intense friendships. Their romantic partner is often their main relationship, sometimes acting as a 'social gatekeeper', meaning that they socialise mainly with their partner's friends.
Autistic people's difficulty with expressing emotions can make relationships difficult for them to navigate. Although people with autism have the same feelings as everyone else, their feelings can be more intense than those neurotypical people express.
difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and predictions. problems with understanding another person's point of view. difficulties initiating social interactions and maintaining an interaction.
Autistic people overwhelmingly report that they want friends. And they have shown that they can and do form friendships with both neurotypical and autistic peers, even if their interactions sometimes look different from those among neurotypical people.
However, there are plenty of extroverted (or otherwise) autistic people who might even be perceived as almost obsessive or overbearing because of their desire to talk with their friends. Contrary to what some people may think, autistic people want connection just as much as any other human being.
Emotion sensor: About half of autistic people experience alexithymia, or an inability to identify their feelings, which can lead to anxiety.
As an autistic person, it can sometimes be difficult to feel like you 'fit in' or to find your place in the world. Because of this, many autistic people can end up being socially isolated and lonely.
Autistic people often form close bonds and strong trust very rapidly. If you can meet the right kind of Autistic person – and they'll be out there somewhere – you just 'click'. It might seem a bit strange, but it could well turn out to be a lifelong friendship. Good friendship is often quality over quantity.
For instance, autistic people tend to be particularly honest, reliable, and loyal — some of the most important traits for a long-term relationship. You may just need to be more direct when communicating than you are used to and be prepared to give your partner space when they feel overstimulated.
Social Skill Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Often, their failure is a direct result of ineffectual programs and inadequate resources typically made available for social skills instruction. For most children, basic social skills (e.g., turn taking, initiating conversation) are acquired quickly and easily.
While cognitive empathy can be lower in people with autism, affective empathy—which is based on instincts and involuntary responses to the emotions of others—can be strong and overwhelming. In fact, newer research suggests that some people with autism may actually feel other people's emotions more intensely.
Though autistic people may respond to emotions and social cues differently than neurotypical people, this does not mean they lack empathy. Just like neurotypical people, levels of empathy vary between autistic individuals.
Forget the proverb 'opposites attract:' A massive Swedish study suggests that men and women who have a psychiatric condition such as autism, schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to pair up with people who share their diagnosis1.
Although autistic people may struggle to interact with others, many autistic people have said they find interacting with other autistic people more comfortable.
Many autistic people experience hypersensitivity to bright lights or certain light wavelengths (e.g., LED or fluorescent lights). Certain sounds, smells, textures and tastes can also be overwhelming. This can result in sensory avoidance – trying to get away from stimuli that most people can easily tune out.
Some autistic people can experience difficulties making themselves understood, understanding what's being said to them, and understanding facial expressions and body language. This can cause considerable frustration and anxiety which may result in anger or distressed behaviour.
These traits can include anything from jealousy to anger issues to anxiety — anything that seems to be getting in the way of a satisfying relationship. Again, this doesn't just apply to the autistic person in the relationship. Both people should be willing to admit when their own traits and habits are a problem.
People with autism often experience love differently from neurotypical people. Their expression of love is less straightforward, as they tend to rely heavily on non-verbal communication. This can mean that those who are neurotypical may find it difficult to interpret the signs of affection.