The writer of this blog has chosen to remain anonymous.
In this blog I will talk about my own specific experiences and understanding of autism, from being a friend to someone on the autistic spectrum. I am not an expert on the topic, and of course it is important to note that everybody on the autistic spectrum is different.
One thing I’ve noticed is that my friend who has autism is very honest and compassionate. In my opinion, understanding that friends do come from a place of kindness and love is important. In my case, my friend who has autism is typically open about his feelings and is able to give great advice (sometimes when I’ve needed it the most). If you have any friend, with or without autism, you should probably be able to trust that what they say and do comes from a place of love and care. If someone has a friend with autism who is more blunt when communicating then I’d say that it might help to remember that this is your friend. This is somebody who genuinely cares about you and wants you to succeed.
In a similar vein, understanding a friend with autism means giving them space when they need it and not taking it personally, which is something that it is important to do for any friend. I know that my friend who has autism is comfortable asking me for space when he needs it so he can focus on work or other commitments. I really appreciate that he feels comfortable enough to do this with me, and some advice for anyone else would be to just let them know that it’s okay and that you’re always there for them if they need you. Understanding generally comes with accepting, and understanding a friend who has autism involves accepting that they might need space sometimes.
Listening to a friend with autism when they tell you about problems or life experiences is also important. Again, I think this applies to any friendship. However, when a friend has autism, it might be harder for someone who doesn’t have it to relate or understand the specific issues they face. I think it’s okay not to fully understand what someone is going through. Even if we think we do I don’t think it’s possible to totally understand. Nonetheless, listening and showing that you really care will hopefully make your friend feel heard and, as someone’s friend, that’s a worthwhile thing to do. If your friend has autism, it might help to just recognize that their experiences will be different from yours in some situations, and so advice that might suit you might not be reassuring for them. As everyone is different, the things that help one person might not help another.
The final thing I’d say is that understanding a friend who has autism involves doing your own research to learn about what they might be dealing with and what they’re talking about when they share problems. Maybe asking your friend where to find good sources of information or reading insightful blogs like these: Autism and me: Part 6, Autism and me: Part 5 and Autism and me: Part 1 could be useful. Overall, this might help to show your friend that you care and that you’re taking steps to avoid misunderstanding things.
In conclusion, a friend having autism does not change how great of a friend they can be. Understanding where your friend is coming from and listening and learning should all (hopefully) help you to keep your friendship/s strong and healthy. I’m personally very lucky to have a friend who has autism in my life and I am grateful for his honesty, kindness and encouragement. I hope the tips in this blog are useful to someone. Thank you for reading this far.