Life on the Autism spectrum

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. 
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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. 
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. 
While some people felt they were developing a greater self-understanding over time, a couple of people were finding life more difficult with age.
Some partners talked about the strategies they used and these are discussed in ‘Intimate Relationships’.

Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated November 2010.

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