Springingtiger's Blog


Mature Autism – My Friends

It is a commonly held view that people with Asperger’s don’t have friends the problem is not that we don’t have friends but that we have a different definition of friendship. I only became aware of this when I was going through my assessment. I had just been asserting that I had several friends when I was asked if I’d ever visited any of them in their home or whether I even knew where they lived. Not only had I never visited any of them ‒ apart from a couple ‒ but it would never have occurred to me to visit just as I would never invite someone to visit me. To be perfectly honest I cannot see why I would want anyone to come to my house. My home is my place, it’s bad enough that my family come to visit without having friends disrupt the place too. (My wife says I should point out that her family being Indian expect to be in contact every few days at the most)

I count several of the people with whom I work as friends particularly those I occasionally meet outside work. According to Facebook I have 103 friends but in reality I don’t count all of them as friends. Some of my Facebook friends are actually family, the only ones I really count as friends are those with whom I interact on a fairly regular basis. What is regular? I phone my brother regularly, at least once a year ‒ I am close to my brother ‒ I don’t phone anyone else unless I have to. I do have conversations on Facebook and I enjoy them.

Most of the people I think of as friends I connect with on Twitter and with many of them I share an interest in autism. From Twitter I follow links to their blogs and interact with them through the comments and back into Twitter for further conversation. Now I know that the NTs among you might find it hard to understand how I can be friends with people I have never met, but I can and am fiercely supportive of them. I particularly enjoy that my friends interact with me positively and share ideas and comment on my comments. I call that conversation. Actually I defined conversation as two people speaking alternately, my wife said it should be on a common subject which ‒ I must admit ‒ had escaped me!

Many years ago I used to participate in a newsgroup alt.healing.reiki (AHR) after some years one of the group Joseph “Running Wolf” Sparti aka “Shadow wolf” came to Scotland to run a training so I went along. As I walked in Joseph ‒ who I had never met but with whom I had aligned often in arguments ‒ greeted me with, “What’s your name?” I replied, “Rory Patton.” “No,” he said, “What’s your name on AHR?” To which I replied, “Chamundi”. “I knew it!” he said. It was as if we had known each other for years, we had a great weekend. I never met him again and he has since died but he is my friend and I miss him ‒ as much as miss anyone which probably is not as much as you! I have met another member of AHR ‒ Judy Rigby ‒ a couple of times, I consider her a close friend, I have actually visited her home! I can go years without being in contact with someone, I don’t notice the time pass. If I see someone in two consecutive years I call that frequent. I have little need of physical proximity with others and what need I have is more than sufficiently met by my wife and family. I encounter more people face to face than I like.

I don’t know what you want from friendship and I suspect my definition of friendship probably would not satisfy you but it gives me what I need. If you worry about your child’s relationships, remember his or her needs may be very different from yours. Try to let your child determine the contact they need for themselves and support them in finding that.

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1 Comment so far
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This is, as usual, great information to have and to ponder. While I do enjoy visiting and being visited by my close friends and family in our home or theirs, I dislike having other people in my house enough to have some appreciation for your point of view. Amusingly, it’s having to have my son’s therapists come over that’s making me ease up on the whole thing.

And I think as the social parts of Internet continue to expand, more and more of us NTs know what it’s like to have friends we’ve never met in person. Blogs, forums, and even online games can lead to nice relationships despite the use of pseudonyms and avatars.

Thanks for the reminder to keep your points in mind as my son starts to interact with others.

Comment by Sam and Boo Book Reviews




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