Autistic Friends

Full paper:

Nothing about us without us
Who: Crompton & colleagues
Journal: Autism
Published: 2020
Title: ‘I never realised everybody felt as happy as I do when I am around autistic people’: A thematic analysis of autistic adults’ relationships with autistic and neurotypical friends and family
Autistic friends
despite common stereotypes, many autistic people do want to have friends, and are capable of maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships
this paper wanted to look at the ways autistic people feel when they are friends with other autistic people and with neurotypical people

cross-neurotype understanding
• autistic people found communicating with neurotypical people to be effortful and energy draining, & made them anxious as they felt they had to “behave neurotypically”
• autistic people felt comfortable and at ease spending time with autistic people who communicate similar to themselves
“I never realised everybody felt as happy as I do when I am around autistic people”
“neurotypical people are a lot harder to read, and I don’t feel relaxed”
Minority status
• autistic people felt their neurotypical friends & family were not accommodating to their needs, & so they felt they had to mask
• they felt neurotypical friends did not consider their needs in the ways the autistic friend considered theirs
• they struggled with the expectation to act neurotypical

• autistic people felt a strong sense of belonging around other autistic people, like they are understood
• they felt they could be their authentic autistic self around other autistic people
• spending time with other autistic people was a source of happiness, and was important in maintaining mental wellbeing and in building resilience
“we simply allow each other to be and accept everything that we are”

“autistic space is so validating compared with the outside world”
this shows that for autistic people, socialisation and support with other autistic people is really important!
research should look more into what makes autistic to autistic communication feel comfortable, so that clinicians and professionals can learn to make interaction more comfortable for autistic people

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