As an autistic individual, making friends has never been easy. Autism is very much a social disability. Throughout my youth, friends were frequently people around my age who were made for me by my parents. My odd social quirks frequently alienated people I spent time with regularly. As a result, classmates were very rarely my friends out of school. Frequently, my behavior was jarring and could also easily insult people. I often failed to recognize these facts, and that made things more difficult for me. My parents did their best for me, and frequently pushed and shoved me into social situations, even if I didn’t want them. Things got so bad that I was actively looking for ways to stay away from people. There was no way that I wanted to hang out with other people my own age or other ages, although I did get along better with older people. It got to the point where my family would go out to do things, such as see concerts, movies, and meet people, and I would actively fight to stay home. At the very worst, I was skipping dinner with my family in order to do my own thing. This was clearly a low point in my life.
When my family moved to Ithaca, New York, I started turning over a new leaf. I had already been involved in social clubs during senior year of high school. When I moved to Ithaca, I became heavily involved in comic book club. Ithaca, New York, has the oldest continuously active comic book club in the nation, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (CBCI). I started off slow with them, but after a while, I was giving talks to the club and helping them plan their annual conventions. When I moved to Buffalo, New York, I started attending a comic book creative group called Visions Comic Art Group. Through this group, I met some very wonderful people. Then one day I got the courage to do something I had never done before: I asked some of these people if I could hang out with them outside of the group setting. They said yes, and soon became my best friends. Through them, I met other wonderful people. I now see my life as an absolutely wonderful thing, filled with friends whom I love dearly.
As an autistic person, there are two steps you can take to ensure friendships. First, start hanging out with common interest groups! Second, have the courage, the audacity to ask people in these groups to hang out with you outside of the group setting. Do not be afraid to make friends with people who are not autistic or disabled in other ways. After all, the majority of the world does not identify as having a disability! I really do hope that these tips come in useful!
This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!