No matter where a person sits on the spectrum of neurodiversity, it is part of human nature to want friends, someone who knows and understands us, who can share in highs and lows.
The feeling of social connectedness and support has been shown to improve health on all levels, protecting against depression, counteracting cognitive decline, and improving physical health. However, dating, friendships, and relationships can be a tricky subject to navigate at the best of times. For autistic adults, these things can be even more challenging.
While some happily make use of internet forums and online dating or friendship sites, others may feel uncomfortable with this type of interaction due to the possibility of misunderstandings and the lack of real, authentic conversation.
A shared interest may provide an alternative opportunity to find like-minded people. Make a list of things you like to do, and then decide if you would like to do any of them with a companion. Once you have identified possible activities, search online for groups who share your interest. The website meetup.com is a good place to start, offering a wide variety of groups, including book and film clubs, Sci-Fi, spy games, hiking, philosophy, cooking, writing, music, and much more. You can also easily set up your own special interest group if it doesn’t already exist in your area. Another safe way to meet people can be attending evening classes at your local Community College, where you will have the benefit of an experienced tutor who can provide structure to the activity and make sure everyone gets to be involved.
In some areas, Autism New Zealand holds adult social groups, which are casual get-togethers providing an opportunity to share stories and meet others. We have had several people make new friends in these get-togethers and form their own private groups as a result. We can also refer to existing social networks within regions.