How to Make Friends if You're Autistic

Two Methods:Finding Community and SupportBuilding Friendships

Being autistic in a neurotypical world can feel like being dropped into the middle of a foreign culture. Neurotypical customs can be difficult to understand, and you may wonder how to get along with them without sacrificing who you are. Here is how to find meaningful friendships if you're autistic.

Method 1
Finding Community and Support

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    Get a mentor whose judgment you trust. Consider parents, older relatives, family friends, teachers, counselors, existing friends, clergy members, et cetera. This person can offer you advice and support while you search for friends and deal with the trials of everyday life.
    • If you have more than one mentor, that's great! You can hear advice and perspectives from more than one person.
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    Join clubs or groups related to your special interests and hobbies. What makes you light up and feel energized? Find a group related to that. This way, you can find people you have something in common with, and you'll have a good conversation starter. Even if you don't end up making friends right away, you'll be able to do something you enjoy.
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    Join an autism/disability group. It can be a huge relief to be around people whose brains work the same way yours does. In a disability group, disabled becomes "normal," so no one will think twice if you don't make eye contact, stim, or speak with a disability accent.
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    Join a sports team. Sports give you something clear to focus on, offer an opportunity to focus on teamwork, and are good for your health too. If you aren't particularly athletic, look for a more casual league.
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    Volunteer. Consider which causes are most important to you—reproductive rights, racial justice, the environment, disability rights, et cetera. Look for volunteering opportunities related to these causes. Volunteering often brings out the best in people, and you can work on being your best self while meeting others who are trying to do the same.

Method 2
Building Friendships

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    Choose a time when people are milling around and not focused (for example, before an event starts). They are usually open to talking to new people during this time.
    • If they are busy reading, wearing headphones, etc. then they probably don't want to talk right now. Let them be.
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    When meeting new people, smile, look at their face (eye contact optional), introduce yourself, and shake hands.
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    Ask open-ended questions to get to know them better. A good ratio is talking for about 30% of the time, and listening about 70% of the time. Figure out what the person is interested in, and get them to tell you about it.
    • Open-ended questions begin with who, what, when, where, why, and how.
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    Decide whether to disclose your autism. This can depend on how comfortable you are with yourself, how "visibly autistic" you are, and whether it is relevant to a conversation. You may need to answer some awkward questions, but in the end, it'll give you a good opportunity to see the other person's character.
    • A good friend may react with understanding, confusion (if they don't understand autism well), acceptance, and/or curiosity. They're open to you explaining things they don't understand well.
    • A bad friend might stop being interested in you, or get defensive if you gently try to correct their misconceptions. You may feel hurt or stifled. This is not your fault.
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    Suggest get-togethers involving common interests. Say you'd be interested in going bowling, visiting the beach, or doing something else together. This can give you time with your friends outside of scheduled meetings such as club activities.


  • Realize that different people have different interests, and be as considerate as you can be about it.
  • Research making friends in the autistic community. Some autistic people offer advice on how to interact with others that is specifically tailored for people on the spectrum.


  • Not all people accept people with differences, so stay away from anyone who treats you badly. If you're assaulted, get help!

Article Info

Categories: Autism Spectrum | Forming Friendships