The How-To Behind Friendship (Not Just For Aspies!)
Making friends and keeping friends: Research confirms these are two areas that seem to seriously challenge children with Asperger’s.
So says Anna Matchneva, a lecturer and one-on-one counsellor who works closely with children on the autism spectrum and their parents.
Rejected: This is a category of children Anna often sees. She is not referring to parental neglect, but to the playground or social setting.
The rejected child is one who tries to join a group but is denied access.
Mostly we will never know why some people choose not to be friends with us. But totally there are things we can do differently.
For instance, we might approach a group and start talking about whatever is on our mind when really? We need to listen. Try to pick up on what the others are saying. Take a little time to formulate a brief remark in line with their conversation. Don’t try to work in your current interest. Stick to their conversation.
But hey, that’s easy to learn, right? Just take a little time before speaking. Listen. Try to understand what they’re talking about. Not just what they’re saying, but what they mean.
We Aspies get a little starved for attention sometimes and that can make us talk too much, too loud, too soon. But it’s easy enough to get over those habits.
I know myself, I have to be careful not to dive hell bent for leather into a topic, completely overwhelming and boring the people who were kind enough to invite me into the group.
And anyway, not every group wants another member. They may be having a private conversation. They may believe they have nothing in common with you, and therefore, not see any point in trying to make friends. Maybe they are happy just as they are. Then you need to find someone else to talk with.
Remember, your focus can be a very good thing, even if others don’t want to share in it. It’s similar to the single-mindedness that made Taylor Swift a star and Bill Gates a computer mogul.
Try to listen first. Take a minute or two to find out what the group and the conversation is about. And when you do speak, smile, keep a neutral tone, and above all, be brief!
And please note–Aspies aren’t the only people in the world who have trouble making and keeping friends. Lots of people do!