By Sky News Wire
People with autism may have a difficult time making friends or being one, for the fact that most of them have limited social skills, which makes it hard for them to relate to others or be a friend. In addition, many have not been taught social and communication skills or how to relate to them. Because of these difficulties that autistic people may experience, the question is, how can you be a friend to them?
* I believe it is imperative that you must be a friend to yourself first. This is accomplished by understanding yourself and nurturing yourself as you grow.
* To be a friend to an autistic person, you want to become strength to him or her. This is done by encouraging the autistic individual, not by putting them down with criticism, which will cause discouragement and low self-esteem.
* Many individuals with autism have difficult behaviors, because of their various levels of the disorder which creates numerous challenges. This may vary according to their age and environment. Be patient with the person with the disorder of autism and let him or her know you do care about them and want to be their friend. Be on common ground with them.
* It is important for you as parent(s), caregiver(s) to become sensitive to the disorder of autism. Practice companionship. Sometimes it is wise not to talk at times but be silent, listen to what the person is communicating or trying to say. I have learned, there are times when the wrong words or not using the right words can destroy friendships that are in its embryo stage.
* To be a friend to an autistic person, is to try to overlook his or her faults and understand that he or she is overcoming their weaknesses, as you are overcoming yours. Be patient with the person and let him or her know you do care about them and want to be their friend. Be on common ground with them.
* I have learned, not to attempt to change or find fault with people who have the disorder of autism, but make them comfortable with your presence, give them time to get to know you. Be tolerant of these individuals and have an understanding with a forgiving heart.
* Autistic individuals are people who want and need friends just as people who do not have the disorder. They want to belong, feel accepted and loved. They may have difficulties socializing or communicating, but you can discover how to be friends with them and continue to grow with them.
* Another way to be a friend to a person who has autism, find out what their likes and dislikes are. If the person enjoys lunch, take him or her to a restaurant that will be enjoyable. If sports is an enjoyment, take the person to a baseball game or watch it with them in a park or on television. Be creative, find out what the person wants to do, what he or she likes, and enjoy it with them. You can also make new suggestions and create new ideas.
* Send an autistic person a card in the mail with encouraging words on it, or a letter to say you are thinking about the person and you care. This can be done once a week or whenever there is a special occasion or just for fun.
* Bring the individual some treats, home made cookies, or candy. Many autistic children will appreciate balloons, so will adults as a gesture to be friends with the person. Use your imagination, and you will discover that making a friend with a person who has autism will be rewarding.