You might find social situations difficult. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, yet they can also struggle to build rapport with autistic people. You may feel that your social differences mean other people don't understand you.

Here we offer information about making friends and socialising, telling people you’re autistic, and where to find out more.

Making friends and socialising

You might prefer not to socialise with other people, or you might enjoy friendships, but find it difficult to make friends. Having friends can mean having someone to go out with, talk with about things you enjoy and discuss your problems with.

Clubs and groups

One option is to join a club relating to a subject or activity you are interested in. This could be a sports club, a book club, or a games club. The other members will share your interest, making conversation easier.

You might start going to your local tenants and residents association meeting, or a weekly coffee morning or lunch club in your neighbourhood.

Another option is to join a social group for autistic people. Some groups take part in leisure activities, others focus specifically on developing social skills.

Courses

Learning a new skill can often lead to making new friends. Your local college might run daytime and evening courses in things like art, IT and cooking. Find out more about adult education courses. We also offer SocialEyes, our established approach to facilitating social skills and understanding for people on the autism spectrum.

Online

You might prefer communicating in other ways, such as online. Here are some ideas.

  • Our online Community is for people on the autism spectrum and their parents and carers. You can register to post your thoughts, questions and experiences, and discuss those of other Community members.
  • Our e-befriending scheme.
  • Asperger syndrome meetup. Meetup® is a website that aims to help people all over the world contact each other and they have a section dedicated to Asperger syndrome.
  • Asperger United is a magazine written by and for autistic people. You can read the latest issue online and if you are autistic you can subscribe for free.
  • Outsiders is a web community which aims to help people with any disability find friendships and form relationships.

Find out about online safety with ChildNet’s Internet safety hot topics and ThinkUKnow’s information about sex, relationships and the Internet.

Who is a real friend?

It can be difficult to tell if someone is not a real friend. You may not find it easy to notice body language and tones of voice that could be a sign that someone is just pretending to be your friend.

Some autistic people have so called ‘friends’ who go on to abuse them. This could be financial, physical or sexual abuse. This is called mate crime. Mate crimes are Disability Hate Crimes and should be reported to the police.

A true friend

  • will always make you feel welcome and talk to you if they have the time
  • will treat you as well as they treat all of their friends.

Someone pretending to be a friend

  • might make unfair requests of you
  • might treat you less well than their other friends
  • might threaten not to be your friend anymore or play on your guilt if it is to help them get their own way.

Based on advice from Marc Segar

Telling people that you are autistic

Sometimes people find others who behave differently to themselves hard to understand. People who aren’t autistic may find it hard to understand why you may prefer not to look them in the eye whilst you speak or why you like to talk a lot about a special interest.

A way of helping people to understand you and communicate well with you is to tell them that you are autistic. It is your choice whether or not to tell people but it can often be a positive decision.

You could tell them things you’d like them to know (eg that you find it easier to concentrate on a conversation by not making eye contact) and things you’d like them to do (eg tell you when they want to end a conversation). You could tell them they can find out more about autism on our website.

More information

Autism Alert cards are credit-card sized cards give information about autism and have a space for writing an emergency contact number.

Friend or fake easy read booklet, Arc

Arc Safety Net

Quick cues, a social script app that helps autistic teens and young adults to handle new situations.

60 social situations and discussion starters to help teens on the autism spectrum deal with friendships, feelings, conflict and more, a book by Lisa A. Timms.

The independent woman's handbook for super safe living on the autistic spectrum, a book by Robyn Steward.

Circles Network offers support to people who are or are in danger of becoming socially isolated. They arrange ‘Circles of Support’ where a group of people meet to help a person to accomplish their goals in life.

Last updated November 2016