Finding and maintaining friendships can be really challenging for us, particularly if we don’t know other neurodivergent people, whom we tend to be able to connect with more straightforwardly, without any of the: ‘I wonder why they’re quiet, did I offend them?’ or ‘I really like them but I can’t maintain this level of interaction – it’s exhausting – I need my own space’.

We may find the masking and anxiety, that seems to be an almost inevitable part of the territory in social situations, is too complicated to make it feel worth our while. Even if we do plan to visit friends, it’s very common for us to cancel, right up to the last minute, or maybe even leave unexpectedly if we feel overwhelmed. If we have friends who understand us, that makes such a huge difference.

Here’s a really good page on making friends from the National Autistic Society’s website – click here

I have always said “I HATE CLUBS!”. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Love the idea of belonging to a group of people with shared interests, or learning something new, but absolutely cannot stand the regular commitment. Can’t bear the inevitable anxiety that builds up from about an hour after I’ve left a club (having probably even had a good time) until it reaches a crescendo in the hour before the next session. I usually cancel with some lame excuse.

That’s what is so good about online communities for us. It immediately removes that attendance stress, the ‘what-do-I-wear-to-blend-in’ nightmare, the fear of meeting new people in the flesh. With online communities we can stay quiet and just read others’ posts, we can interact as and when our energy and time allows, we can leave without all those cringeworthy excuses! The best thing of all about online communities is that we can find our tribe. We have three online community groups (not clubs!) that you can click on and join at the bottom of the page. They’re relaxed, friendly and there’s absolutely no pressure to participate. The best thing of all is that we can be ourselves – completely unmasked  🙂