Making friends when you have Asperger’s and Autism

A lot of people with autism struggle when it comes to making friends. They find that they don’t have the social skills or the confidence to go up and start talking to new people, or to know what to say if somebody comes up, and starts talking to them. They might also find that because they don’t go out independently, or maybe because they don’t go out socially very often, they struggle to meet people in the first place. A lot of people with autism also say that when they do make friends they struggle to keep them. Even though autistic people are generally not as social as non-autistic people, the majority of them still need friends, and value friends highly. The problem is that when somebody has autism, a thing that should be natural, like making friends, can become extremely difficult. Some thing’s that most people do without even thinking about, can be a big challenge for people with autism. The main challenge is that autistic people often find it hard to strike up conversations with strangers. Even though the old saying goes, “`Don’t talk to strangers`”, if you don’t break that rule at some point, you won’t get to know anybody.

The main reasons autistic people don’t tend to strike up conversations with people they don’t already know are (a) they don’t have the confidence – they worry that whatever they say will sound stupid, or that the person won’t want to talk to them, and (b) they often can’t think of anything to say, largely due to the fact that most autistic people are not big fans of small talk. But because most people make friends —- or at least get to know each other quite quickly —- if somebody with autism doesn’t join in the conversation at some point, they often find themselves excluded from groups. Some autistic people are fine with this, but a lot of. Many of them, however, wish that they could join in, but are unsure at which point in the conversation they should join in —– when is it their turn?

Unfortunately the only piece of advice that can be given for this problem is the piece that most people with autism would probably rather not hear —- that they need to face up to their fears, and try to start talking to people. For example, if you are in a new class, ask somebody a question to get a conversation started, such as which school, or college they were at, or if it’s their first year, or a similar question, depending on what environment you happen to be in. The best thing to do in this situation is to try and think of a few questions you can ask a person, before you go in to it. There is no guaranteeing that the person with autism will make friends, but if they are open and friendly, and start talking to people, then there is no reason to suggest that they won’t.

As for keeping friends, that can be slightly more difficult. People with autism will often either be over-friendly with people too soon, — for example, talking to them constantly about their favourite subject, even if it’`s clear the person they are talking to has no interest in this subject;, or they won’t be friendly enough —, for example, not going over to sit with people they know, or not bothering to make plans with them. The main thing that people should remember in this situation is yes, the other person may be their friend, but they are also a person in their own right. If somebody comes up to them and starts talking about computers constantly, and they make it clear they have no interest in computers, and yet the person simply carries on talking about computers, then they may not want to be friends with this person. Equally, if someone starts talking to an autistic person, who then ignores them for two weeks, they won’t consider that person a friend, just an acquaintance. It is important for autistic people to remember that while they should be relaxed enough to be themselves, there are elements in their personality that may be strange, and difficult for new people to grasp.

The fact is some autistic people will find it easier to make friends than others; some do it by pretending to be somebody else, but that can take a severe toll on people, and leave them feeling exhausted and despondent. When I say that some autistic people may try to pass as somebody else, I mean pretend to be neuro-typical; to cut off all outward aspects of their autism, and follow the crowd by acting like everybody they see around them. While this might work in the short term, I am not sure that it is the healthiest thing to do, and also, none of the autistic person’s friends would actually know the real them. The best thing that a person can do is to act like themselves, but modifytailor certain aspects of their behaviour that might be overwhelming for other people —- at least initially —- and force themselves to be a bit more out-going if they do want to make friends. It is impossible for a person to be both anti-social and have friends, and it is up to the autistic individual to decide how much making friend’s means to them. Once that’s decided, then how out-going, and sociable they want to be is completely their own choice.

My name is Paddy-Joe Moran. I am a 19 year old autistic author of two books, and co-founder of autism advice service ASK-PERGERS? If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out my free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

You can also find books written by me at:


Mark Blakey

Mark Blakey is the founder of the Aspergers Test Site, after a successful career working in IT Mark wanted to share what he learned from his own diagnosis. He is the author of "Emotional Mastery for Adults with Aspergers" and "An Introduction to Aspergers Syndrome". Having received lots of questions from parents with autistic children, Mark went on to found Autism Parenting Magazine. The magazine has become an essential resource aimed at improving the quality of life for families effected by Autism. Its a monthly publication containing lots of helpful articles to help develop social skills, manage challenging behavior and improve communication.

  • David says:

    Interesting the comment about talking about computers ad nauseum being something that as Aspie might do and would irritate non-Aspie potential friends. I find that in some ways I’m the exact opposite–I suspect I’m an Aspie but have never been diagnosed although I scored 38 on the test on here.

    I earn my living in IT but don’t enjoy talking about computers outside of work. The reason is that I’m in the computer field because it is one of the few areas of work open to someone with my social limitations–NOT because I love computer programming. I don’t love computer programming but can earn a living at it–and having a job is important (!)–but it is simply not a topic I enjoy outside of work.

    If I were better at dealing with people, there are MANY other professions–lawyer, teacher, sales, management, maybe even politics–that I would choose before going into IT. IT is a field I’ve been forced into because of my social limitations–I don’t love it in any way although I admit it has been good for me financially. You won’t find me talking obsessively about computers in a social setting.

  • Stephem Makenzie says:

    Nice article and good points on making and keeping friends.

    But what about if we turned things on its head by adoption of positive Aspie traits – wouldnt this be a benefit to Human kind?

    Wouldn’t life be so much easier for human kind if everyone meant what they say and said what they meant.

    Maybe people with aspyrgers are a head of the curve interms of honesty, than behind it so why the heck are we seen as the disabled ones.

    We dont have many of the emotional hang ups – is this any bad thing. Yes i recognise the difficulties we can face but lets focus on the positives even just for a while.

    We all have an overload threshold – just aspies can get their quicker.

    Again wouldn’t life be so much easier if we all were more open with our feelings.

    Dont assume until you know – not everyone has your best intentions.

    Dont write someone off they may be:
    a) smarter,
    b) more capable and
    c) a heck of a lot more honest.

    If smart people make things and geniuses can make things better – we need a new word for what aspies can do when we out shine geniuses.

    Why do people assume were disabled when we cant do something and not see how better abled we are in our narrow focus. If your a doctors your called a consultant and a consutant can be called a speciallist for their narrow focus. aspies dot need years of medical school to get to be a specialist.

    Why cant we be happy in ourselves and focus on the things we enjoy.

    We dont all need a zillon friends or bustling social media profiles – perhaps one or two friends is just fine.

    The most important friend we have is in ourself.

    If NASA is full of smart people and they actively seek out dyslexics and aspyrgers whereupon 50% of NASA employees have these traits – just think when the rest of industry catch onto to benefits of dyslexia and aspyrgers – we will become an invaluable ability and coveted resource consultants or speciallists even.

    Why is it polite to look someone in the eye – surely it be politer to avoid eye contact?

    Maybe aspies have it right i know one university professor who cant look anyone in the eye but is now a university principal.

    Don’t we all hate PDA’s (public displays of affection) aspies don’t have this hang up -we dont it or do it in our own way – would most people perfer not to see the PDA of others.

    Why should we be forced to be nice to someone we dont like.

    Would it not be more fun to explore the abilities than burded with the disability.

    If most people seek a better life, to find them selves or their true calling – then aspies have this nailed as we know what we like and stick to it.

    Surely we have a choice to be a loner – someone comfortable in their self and with their own company – it dosent need to be negative.

    Or surely we have a choice to be an engager someone who seeks out company or perhaps a bit of both.

    Can we learn social skills or compensatory skills to help us figure out what works and what dosent till we get our balance right or tools to deal with the pain of being let down?

    Those who are considered high achieving aspies perhaps can show us the way to identifying skills and tools to allow others to engage and excell.

    I like the following quotes by Harvey Paker

    “Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.”

    “Everybody’s like everybody else, and everybody’s different from everybody else.”

    Be great to capture aspie quotes, tools and stragegies for life.

    Stephen Mackenzie

    • Clover says:

      Completely agree about eye -contact assumptions in our culture, as for me to look away is also a sign of respect and to look someone in the eye is, for me, to challenge, question or search.
      I just don’t feel the need to do this with casual acquaintances.
      My easiest friendships come from friends of friends or ex-colleagues – these are free from expectation, which really helps for some reason.

  • Stephen Mackenzie says:

    Ps please forgive the typos, spelling mistakes, gramatical issues errors or omissions as im also dyslexic.

    The quotes are by Harvey Pekar – writer and American Splendor comic book. harvey broke the mould in many ways durin his writings about everyday life challenges and dilemmas.


  • Steve says:

    Hi been a while since i looked at this main article, the response i forgot i wrote it but i do appreciate Davids personal insight and welcome the insight of others.

    I do wonder what Davids dream job would be and what would need to make this happen, could this happen and what would the pros and cons be.

    Im constantly looking for my way in life and at times doubt my choosen profession (to the point im ready to walk out another job or sue for dissability disscrimination as five months in no dissability adjustments are in place and despite a government grant being awared some months back) – but like david its what i do and it pays the bills to give me freedon in my passions – which in all honestly wouldnt make me a living or pay the bills or could it?

    But at other times i just feel closed off and opt out of work but value the importance of true friends and family or great bosses who get me and support me or the terrible bosses which have moved me on to different things or those little wins in life.

    What is our calling
    What is our way in the world
    Who are our friends
    Who are our mentors or confidants
    What are the challenges we can over come
    What are be battles to won, lost or surrendered.

    Perhaps all we can hope for is the oppertunity to choose, however limited or potentially expansive, to be apprecaite those who show us kindness or friendship.


  • Marcella Fitzpatrick says:

    My son has Asperger’s syndrome, he is almost 21yrs old and has no friends, this makes him depressed and very unhappy. He stays in his room all the time with his TV and games and as a result is putting on feirce weight. I am very worried about him, he has no social life at all. He loves art and drama, and is a HUGE TOMB RAIDER FAN. I would be so so greatful if anyone can help. Thank you so much.
    Thankfully Yours,
    Marcella Fitzpatrick.

    • Helen Robson says:

      Ah bless him. You could be talking about my daughter they sound so alike. She is nearly 29 now and I am still trying to get her out and about. I wish I could get these young people with the same interests in the same place so they could spend a little time with similar souls…. just haven’t managed to find a way of doing this yet

  • Anna says:

    I scored a 45. I’ve always known that I was different from most other people and have been given many labels over the years. But I never considered Asperger’s, though it was brought up once. I’m don’t like maths and have absolutely zero navigational skills. It’s become quite a joke in my family. I was given a “directionally dysfunctional” bumper sticker. I simply have no inner compass. I am an artist. I focus on minute details and patterns I notice, primarily in nature. I guess I assumed that those facts alone made the diagnosis absurd.

    But THEN, I began boning up on it as it would appear that I’ve fallen for an aspie. Hard. As I’m trying to understand him better (I would’ve let go if I could! People don’t get that) I keep reading my own symptoms or traits. I struggled all my life to find a place to fit in. Then gave up and live fairly reclusive.

    When I think back on my early years I can see problems early on. But back then few were diagnosed with anything more than the catch all phrase “mental illness”. I was never comfortable around people. My parents strongly encouraged social activity’s and it was pure hell.

    I avoid social events of any kind as they always push me over the edge. Something as ordinary as grocery shopping (it’s the lighting as well as the people) or driving causes more anxiety than I can manage. I do have a couple people who will accompany me on occasion and that helps me by focusing on them, they’ve accepted me and my quirks. Supposedly enjoyable social contact is often out of reach. I don’t like to do the birthday or holiday thing. Sometimes I’ll drink and feel a little better about dealing with people. I get very attached to things, not so much people. I like being alone. I’m happy with my paintbrush and music. I’m no good with emotions. I’m sure they’re there, I just don’t know what to do with them. Except when I listen to music!

    Of course, liking to be alone with immense privacy makes a job and friends difficult. I have great anxiety even being around family. I’m currently very depressed in my isolation. (I like the words melancholy/melancholia, that seems a much better description to me, depression sounds like a dip in the yard, but hey).

    I have secured a job on a yacht taking care of an elderly paraplegic. I’m good at my job and haven’t left the boat more than a few days in 2 years. It’s comfortable and I like being on the water. At sea it’s as if the world isn’t there. Just me. I do often have trouble living with other crew. I have my routine and things are where they’re supposed to be and they mess that up. I’m very isolated as we travel a lot. Sounds pretty good, right?! Probably not. I actually do want more friends, and I love my man and his eccentricities. So, what is the point of this diatribe? After reading your insights and information I don’t feel so alien!

    Thank you

    • Leonie Cent says:

      Hi Anna, you are definitely not alien! I relate to everything you said. It sounds like you are managing quite well, despite your idiosyncrasies. I’m glad to hear you have a job also. I’m 53 and live with my aspire husband in suburbia, in Australia. If you want to correspond, feel free. Leonie (

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