Making friends, social life & autism

People on the autism spectrum have a range of abilities and difficulties. Being on the spectrum is a not static however; people change as they grow older, learn different ways of managing everyday life, develop new skills and so on. This can be independently or with the support of family or paid carers.

‘And of course I developed an awful lot of strategies’

Developing strategies was something many people talked about. For some people, this involved forcing themselves to go into situations they knew they would find difficult. For Luke, this involved going to gigs or different pubs and for Gail, it involved working in health care because she knew she would find it difficult talking to patients. Russell, who worried obsessively about things going wrong, made sure he had done everything he should have done, like taking his keys and locking his front door. While he was aware there were things he could not control, like ‘earthquakes and tidal waves’ he focused on the things that he could.

Ian doesn’t let anything bother him anymore.

Age at interview 22

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 8

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‘When I talk to people now, I immediately ask them a certain amount of questions’

A few people talked about the attention they paid to interactions with others as they tried to learn to socialise better. As Paul said, ‘I have to think about what I have to say first; pre-scripting things in your mind and then saying it. That’s kind of how I cope.’ Simon always asks people a lot of questions and then replays the conversation in his mind later, working out what people liked or disliked about the conversation.

Margaret describes how Daniel has learnt some responses and he says things because he thinks it’s…

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 11

Richard describes, while he has learnt some body language over the past two years, ‘I don’t…

Age at interview 58

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 51

Other strategies talked about included getting out of the car and walking away when experiencing rage or aggression, or avoiding a particular course which had potential difficulties related to it.

Simon has studied the art of conversation. He is learning ways of managing his emotions more…

Age at interview 22

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 5

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Steven describes how, although he has found strategies to help him fit in, life still feels like…

Gender Male

While some people felt they were developing a greater self-understanding over time, a couple of people were finding life more difficult with age.

Russell has become more cautious as he has grown up and feels more wary of possible dangerous…

Age at interview 21

Gender Male

Age at diagnosis 12

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Some partners talked about the strategies they used and these are discussed in ‘Intimate Relationships’.

Obsessions & autism

Most people talked about being obsessive about things. These obsessions, which included hygiene, health, exercise, safety, animals, computers, people, cars, DVDs and, in one case,...

Autism, hobbies and interests

'Programming was my life' One characteristic of autism is having 'special interests' and some of the activities people described enjoying could be interpreted as special...