Personal story about adults with Asperger's and forming friendships


By Mr Coffee


People with Asperger's Syndrome are capable of achieving long-term friendships. What has helped me in many cases is my skills in a certain discipline. My areas of interest would include driving a bus for a group of people on a ski trip, or working on a web site for a not-profit organization. What makes the relationships work in my case, is the fact that I can offer something that the group needs, whether it be web-authoring skills or the ability to drive a bus on a trip. In the above case, I would be involved with the group for a legitimate reason and have a purpose for being there, without needing to worry whether or not I "fit in".


Focus on tasks instead of 'small talk'

I used to be involved with a group that functions much like the Boy Scouts of America, and I concentrated on helping school-aged children with their projects. I didn't usually engage in "small talk" with the adult leaders. Instead, I focused on my tasks and would allow others to approach me when they had questions related to a given project. I was often able to understand the functioning of the kids well enough to communicate with them effectively, and meet the directives of the group. For the most part, my social needs were met, and what communication skills I had were kept up to date.



Asperger's Syndrome is considered a developmental disability. The trouble with me is usually the lack of ability to pick up on subtle non-verbal cues when communicating with the general adult population. Thinking is logical and sequential, the reasoning is concrete rather then abstract. Imaginary play and some sports were not always within my capability. Therefore, I helped the kids with their projects, using communicating on their level to the best of my ability. I would allow the other workers to handle more of the creative issues involving imaginary play and sports.


As the reader may observe, the above example does not contain any real provisions for a close friendship. However, the elements for a good working relationship were there. In my case, while other adults would communicate and socialize among each other, I would have my part in the group, and I actually did well in helping the kids with their projects. The other adults were then able to approach me at their leisure without having to feel like they were being forced to socialize. I think my focusing on the actual work helped relieve a lot of that pressure.


difficulties interpreting group dynamics

In an example that did not work, I was at one time thrust into an adult group that had a strong emphasis on dating and forming partnerships. I ended up placing extreme pressure on others to help me interpret what was actually going on with others in the group. Most of the time, I ended up ignored, until I got negative attention from the leadership without realizing what the problems were. I could not figure out my own reason for being there in the first place, so I eventually left.


Close this personal story on Asperger's syndrome and friendship issues

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This story is reprinted with the permission of Mr Coffee who organizes an Asperger's syndrome forum at

An adult with Asperger's syndrome talks about his difficulties with communication, making friends, and living in a non-autistic world