The first Sunday in August in National Friendship Day! This holiday was established by Hallmark way back in 1919 and reminds us that we all need friends. This makes it a great time to take a look at why Friendship is especially important for those on the Autism Spectrum.
The issues of Isolation and Autism
Like anyone, people on the Spectrum need friends. It can be especially important for individuals with disabilities because it can lead to isolation-type behavior.
If they experienced any kind of bullying in middle school or high school, the idea of being open to having friends can be intimidating. Some individuals might be naturally outgoing while others may be naturally shy, introverted, avoid people out of fear, or simply the uncertainty of being in an unfamiliar situation. You may feel uneasy about putting yourself out there, especially if you have had a bad experience in the past but it's important to remember that a lot of people have experienced bullying, even neurotypicals, so try to not discouraged.
The Importance of Friendship
According to the Autism Society, many people with Autism have strong interests in certain areas. The laser focus on these interests places those on the spectrum inside their comfort zone, and most friendships are based on shared interests. It may take some time, but try to encourage the interests of other things your friends like as well, even if you don't. You may discover something new to be passionate about.
Forming friendships is often our first practice to balance other social situations in other areas of life including work and school. The more practice you have in these situations will better prepare you moving forward.
For many on the spectrum, starting a friendship can be easy, but it is the long term care of a friendship that many find difficult, according to Spectrum News.org. This is often because individuals on the spectrum are not as familiar with social cues and what the rules of new friendships are.
Have an honest conversation with your new friend about how often they like to communicate, and with practice, this is a new skill that you can learn. Also, respect your need and your friends need for some alone time. It is perfectly natural to want some time alone. In these times, ask yourself why you want to be alone. Sometimes all people need space, it doesn't necessarily mean you are depressed or lonely.
Friends Are Good for Your Heath
While the benefits of friendship are generally considered to be good for your emotional well-being, there is a case to be made for the link between emotional and physical health. Here are some ways that Your network of buddies might save your life.
You'll live longer. According to a 2010 study, individuals with strong social ties were less likely to die prematurely than those who isolated themselves. The study argues that have a strong network for friends is the equivalent of quitting smoking, and could more than double your expected lifespan.
Your pals can make you healthier in general. The study also noticed a rise in healthy eating and exercise habits in groups where friends encouraged each other to make lifestyle changes. Your friends want you to be around to enjoy life with them.
Your friends can keep your mind sharp. A strong social group that engages with you keeps your mind shaper according to the study, with you less likely to develop dementia or other related conditions as these often start with an onset of loneliness.
Everyone deserves to have close friends that they can count on, whether they are on the spectrum or not. Remember that a true friend should support you, but that they are human too. Take a risk and you'll be sure to find some great guys and gals who enjoy your company and will be there for you in a time of need.