Friendship sure has been a topic of conversation of late! If we aren’t talking about germs, masks, recent stats, or financial payouts, then we are probably talking about the daily effects of Covid 19, impacts of the stay at home orders, loneliness, and friendship. Hey, friendship! What a great topic.
It fascinates me that my clients have historically been anxious when talking about friendship. They have previously suffered loss of friendships, bullying, and pressure from others (parents, teachers) to form friendships. Now that we have Stay at Home orders, the pressure to get together in person has dropped out, and my clients are more willing to discuss friendship.
Ends up, my clients really want friends. (Of course, we knew that, but somehow people continue to believe that people with autism don’t want friends. Come on!) Now that there are safeguards in place, my clients are more willing to discuss friendship, what they value in friendship, and how to access friendship.
My clients are great friends: loyal, honest, funny, and wildly supportive. Sometimes, though, it is hard for my clients to connect with others in the way others expect. Finding people who accept and respect you for who you are is key. Finding potential friends with similar passions and interests is also important.
These days, people seem to be connecting online. This would be a perfect time to noodle around on the internet to see if there is a group of people talking about your favorite topic (photography, aviation, birds, crafting, genealogy, Legos!). It is possible that these online friendships will always be online, but they could migrate to in person contact, once that is available.
Let’s break this into smaller steps:
- Look online re: groups that discuss your interests
- Lurk in the groups to see if you want to hang with those folks
- Be brave enough to post in the groups
- Perhaps connect online with a preferred conversational partner
- Full stop. Stay at Home orders means you are at no risk of being invited to coffee, dinner, on a date, out of the house. You might try those steps to initiate NEW friendships during this time of Covid 19 Stay at Home. Next post we can look at how to maintain or deepen existing friendships.
Humans are social creatures. This is a great time to try novel friendship skills. Everyone else is trying new friendship skills, so my clients can be in the majority for this one!