The people we interviewed had different experiences of friendships. Many had difficulties making and sustaining friendships, a few did not want friends because they did not like socialising and others had good friendships.
Several people had a friend or several friends and these included online friends who interacted via MSN, friends from school and friends from an autistic support group.
One woman had friends from the village she grew up in and friends she’d made through her local Asperger support group. Another man, similarly had ‘loads of friends’ from the youth club he attends with other young people with Asperger syndrome. Other people said that their friends were similar to them; ‘all misfits’ was how one person described his friends over the years.
‘Making friends is a mystery to me’
Defining what a friend was concerned a few people. Richard quoted his wife as saying he had no friends, but he does have friends on the internet: ‘People that have gone through the same kind of thing, the same kind of experiences and they tend to be people I can relate more to’. Laurie had a lot of professional counselling because she hasnt been able to go and let off steam with a friend over a cup of coffee like most people. To her, making friends is a mystery (see ‘Communication and interaction’).
Some people found making friends got easier as they grew older and learnt more about social rules. John L finds he is better at doing things it if he doing them with or for someone else. He enjoys cooking for his friends.
Others found that a distance grew between themselves and their peers as they reached adolescence.
Knowing how to interact with friends was something several people found difficult.
The social side of friendships was appreciated by some people, even if they had not been successful in making any. One woman said, ‘I would really like to have a proper friend, as in like someone you could see regularly, that you can share and disclose everything, you know, and you feel 100% comfortable with’. Simon became depressed when his friends left college and he had to start the new college year on his own.
A couple of people had mixed feelings about friendships or didn’t want friends. Martin found people largely ‘irritating’ while Christopher said he ‘ached for companionship’ while at the same time not really wanting friends.