Friendship is something many Autistics have had trouble with throughout their lives, and I am no exception. While I do have some amazing friends now, that hasn’t always been the case.
I have been used by a few people who I thought were close friends. This in turn has made it harder to trust new people who do want to be friends. Many friends that I thought would be lifelong ones have disappeared from my life, though I still have fond memories of some of them. Friendship is a hard thing to maintain sometimes, especially as you get older and have less time for hanging out. I know I have trouble trying to make new friends. I am never sure how to break the ice and initiate a conversation that leads down a path of friendship. For most of my current friends either others introduced them to me or I met them through my convention. Others I have met because of various fandoms I have been in online throughout the years.
I am really lucky in that it turns out many of my really good friends are also Autistic, although none of them knew until I started researching autism and talking about it. Quite a few of them have since gone on to get an official diagnosis, while others are content with being self-diagnosed. We Autistics seem to be pretty good at finding each other, even when we don’t have a label to use. When I was younger, sometimes I just knew someone was one of my people, although I had no idea that my people had a name other then “geeky”.
Let me talk about my wonderful best friends for a moment. So my best friend, we clicked right away when we met at a mutual friends birthday party. We have been friends going on 13 years now and have talked to each other almost every day of those 13 years. My other best friend I met in the fall of 1997. We were apart for 12 years because our parents got in a fight. We didn’t see each other from 1999 to 2011. As soon as we found each other again, we picked up right where we had left off. It was as if no time had passed at all! Even now I don’t get to see her a lot, but we are always able to pick up where we left off. And even though we don’t message each other a lot, we tend to favorite each others stuff online to say we are still paying attention.
Lately I have been preferring to mainly interact with my Autistic friends, even though I love my non-autistic friends a ton. I have found that it’s less work for me to interact with other Autistics. I don’t have to worry about my body language, what my face is doing, small talk, or anything else that might cause a misunderstanding with non-autistics. The past few weekends I have gotten to hang out with a small group of my Autistic friends and it’s been been amazing. We all understand each other and our natural body language makes sense to us. Also, it’s one of the best things ever when we all happy stim together or play with our stim toys together. We also can info dump at each other without it being an issue. I can’t wait to see them all again! It seems (at least for me) that I somehow gain spoons when around others like me. I don’t feel mentally exhausted at all after a weekend of being around other Autistics. Physically exhausted on the other hand, that is another story…
All in all I love all my friends! And I hope many of them end up being lifelong friends. <3