Tips on making friends from a young person with autism
We asked Jordan, a young person campaigning to stop stigma about autism, to share her advice on making friends for pupils on the spectrum.
- If you find it hard to approach new people at school, remember you’re not the only one: “there’s always a bit of anxiety for anyone, regardless if they’re on the spectrum or not, when approaching new people. Starting a conversation can be hard. Try to find common ground by talking about things you know the other person likes too – like a TV show or pop band.”
- Sometimes sharing what it’s like to have autism can help: “Looking back I think the other kids were probably scared of the unknown of my autism. I always felt the need to tell my classmates about the fact I am autistic so that everyone knew why I acted differently from other people. Their reaction was mostly that they didn’t know what autism was so I explained it to them, in the most simple way I could.”
- When you’re talking to someone and you find it hard to work out how they’re feeling, it’s ok to ask them: “For those of us having problems, reading social cues and understanding figures of speech, body language, hand gestures and facial expressions can be very complicated and challenging”.
- Your school should help you find the support that’s right for you: “My school had a ‘base’ which was a place for pupils with sensory issues and disabilities, we could socialise there during breaks. It really helped with my issues”.
- If you get bullied, tell someone: “I would always speak up if someone was nasty or rude to me and tell them that their words were hurtful”. If you don’t feel able to do this, tell someone in your family or at school or check out this respectme film to get other ideas for ways to deal with bullying.
- Joining a youth group can help: “Hanging out with people who are into the same things as you can be a good way to make friends”.