Social understanding and communication are two areas impacted by autism neurology. The way this plays out is different from one autistic individual to the next. Typically, for autistics I have worked with, this means that they do not always pick up social information from the world around them through observation only as most people do. Instead, they sometimes need direct instruction concerning information their autistic neurology doesn’t allow them to automatically pick up and learn.
It can be difficult for some autistic people to sort out what things are okay to say and what things are not okay to say in various social situations. This was true for a high school student I worked with during the past year. William very much enjoyed talking with others, but was asking questions and making comments that were not appreciated by teaching staff. Worse, these comments and questions were causing other students to avoid him rather than include him in social exchanges. Each time teaching staff explained to William that his comment had been offensive and had caused other students to move away from him William would feel bad, say he would not make that comment again and could even come up with alternative comments to use in the future to replace the offensive comment. After two years not much had changed in William’s ability to refrain from using offensive comments or ask questions that were considered rude or inappropriate.
For many years having friends eluded me. I find that to be true with many teen and young adult autistics. If you are in that predicament I encourage you to hang in there because it does get better over time.
One of the hardest things we have going against us as autistics is that it is generally non-autistics who try to help us to have friends. The only way they know how to help is to try to get us to make friendships work in the way they make them work based on the way their neuromajority thinking and interfacing with others and with the world work for them. Many times this is a big enough mismatch for autistics as not to work in our lives. When this happens we often blame ourselves. Here is something I came to understand in my 40’s. I share it in hopes it will be helpful to others.