From my own experiences of being on the autistic spectrum, as well as talking to others on the spectrum, it is clear that people on the autistic spectrum can sometimes feel lonely. This is an aspect of autism that is overlooked a lot. In this blog post, I will discuss this topic further.
Making friendships is a challenge for some people on the autistic spectrum
For a good number of people on the autistic spectrum, making meaningful friendships can be challenging. One reason is because there are lots of small yet important things you need to be able to navigate when it comes to making meaningful friendships and having quality social interactions. Examples of these small yet important things in friendships include not talking about the same topic all the time, being careful not to be over empathetic, and interpreting facial expressions. People on the autistic spectrum can struggle to navigate these small yet important things, which makes it significantly harder to make meaningful friendships. This is no one’s fault, but not having a good number of meaningful friendships can lead to people on autistic spectrum feeling lonely.
Most people cannot relate to some of the challenges people on the autistic spectrum face
Certain challenges that people on the autistic spectrum face, such as autism masking, autism burnout and executive dysfunction are specific to the autistic spectrum and diagnoses similar to autism. Therefore, people that are either not on the autism spectrum or diagnosed with something similar to autism (such as ADHD) would not be able to relate to these challenges. I have found from personal experience that this makes it harder to open up to other people. It is often easier to open up about a certain challenge to someone that can somewhat relate from their own personal experiences. If you cannot relate to a particular challenge from your own experiences, then it is generally harder for you to provide support to someone else going through that challenge. This can lead to loneliness, as it can lead to someone on the spectrum feeling like they have to deal with some of the challenges they are facing on their own if others can’t relate. However, I have written a blog post here that talks about how you can be a good friend to someone on the autistic spectrum if you cannot relate to them.
Navigating a neurotypical world is difficult for a lot of people on the spectrum
I have mentioned a few times in previous blog posts that one of the biggest and most common challenges faced by people on the autistic spectrum is navigating a neurotypical world. The reality is that for a good number of people on the autistic spectrum face daily challenges in navigating a world that isn’t always accommodating for their differences. Lots of people on the spectrum feel under a lot of pressure to meet expectations of a neurotypical society, and this pressure can be very overwhelming. This creates loneliness and isolation because it can make some autistic people feel that society won’t embrace their differences and accept them for who they truly are.
There are still misconceptions and stigma when it comes to the autistic spectrum
This point is every similar to the paragraph above. Although there has been more focus on autism awareness and some focus on autism acceptance recently, there is still a lot of misconceptions and stigma when it comes to the autistic spectrum. For example, the terms “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” are still being used to describe individuals on the autistic spectrum, even though these terms are extremely misleading. The fact that there are still misconceptions and stigma means that people on the autistic spectrum feel that they have no choice but to mask their true selves in front of society. Constantly having to mask because of the misconceptions and stigma can lead to the feeling of losing a sense of identity. Therefore, it can feel very lonely and isolating having to constantly hide their true selves in front of society, just because there are still misconceptions and stigma that exists.