My Autistic Friends

Happy discount chocolate day! These are my thoughts about my lovely autistic friends and how much I value their friendships. In some ways it’s a love letter, but more than that it’s full of gratitude and other deep feelings that I cannot quite label with emotion names right now. Maybe someday 🙂

Spending time with other autistic people is an amazing experience. I’m fortunate to have several autistic friends in real life. We’ve even, in most cases, been friends from before any of us suspected we might be autistic.

Somehow, we just gravitated towards each other. Felt comfortable with each others’ presence in ways that we didn’t feel with most other people.

Maybe our friendship wouldn’t be considered such from an allistic (non-autistic) perspective, but I think that autistic friendship is the very best kind of friendship.

I find great comfort and restoration in spending time with someone whose mind works similarly to my own. It’s refreshing in so many ways.

When we talk, it’s the most natural thing in the world. We rhapsodize about our areas of expertise, of course, but we also talk about everything else under the sun – anything that pops into our head is worth discussing and hearing about.

I converse with other autistic people in a way that feels right to me instead of constantly assessing the timing and rhythm of allistic conversation, trying my best to mimic it while messing it up in the end anyhow. It feels stunted and boxed-in to converse with allistics in a way that runs contrary to how my mind works.

But with my autistic friends, our conversations flow easily. Periodically I’ll cringe and think that something must have been misunderstood because it’s happened so frequently with others in the past, but every time I find that my autistic friends either already understood what I meant or are wonderfully open to hearing my clarification without any weirdness whatsoever.

The topics we discuss are as varied as our individual interests and more. I love learning from them and they from me. We all understand that there’s immense value in self-taught learning, especially since we immerse ourselves so fully within topics that hold great interest for us.

We intricately connect our bodies of knowledge together, spinning a web of understanding, as we easily relate our friend’s interests back to at least one interest of our own and thus deepen our understanding of all the interests while conversing either in real life or via text.

We wander along the pathways of our respective areas of expertise and enthusiasm, exploring every side trail we come to. We often forget how we arrived, but that’s okay, because we’re lost together with infinite side trails to explore. We’ll find the main path again too, whether it takes a week or two or even years.

Sometimes we meander slowly down our trails of thought and other times we race each other as we see an exciting connection or conclusion waiting just around the next bend.

Just past the next few words.

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a moment to gather one’s thoughts or to abruptly change the subject because something important, like an edible plant on a real trail, popped up in the middle of our thought trail as we were just strolling along the topic.

We’re terrible at contacting each other regularly and often feel like we’re bothering others when we do reach out first. But I always love hearing from any of them. All of you!

They never call me on the phone unless it’s a dire emergency and I always answer for their numbers if at all possible because of that. If I can’t answer for any reason, they understand that too.

My autistic friends are understanding when I need to cancel last-minute due to being overwhelmed with everything. I don’t have to find a “suitable” excuse that’s not totally true in order for them to understand that my cancellation has nothing to do with them personally.

After all, they also sometimes cancel for the same reason and know that I wouldn’t have wasted my limited socializing energy on them in the first place if I didn’t like spending time with them.

Sometimes I do require reassurance that I’m not bothering them, and I’m always happy to give that reassurance to them when they need it too.

They don’t read ridiculous motives and implausible subtexts into my every move or word. They instead ask clearly for clarifications when things seem “off.”

They accept me as I am and believe me when I tell them the truth.

We pick up right where we left off even after many years of silence between us. There’s no expectation of “checking in” regularly, which would just stress out most, if not all, of us.

With my real life autistic friends, the “hot button” controversies from the online Autistic Community aren’t a big deal at all. We discuss pretty much anything from politics to religion and everything in between, including neurodiversity issues.

I’m the only one who’s been formally diagnosed at this point, one other is in the process of being evaluated, and the others (for varying reasons) either aren’t interested in ever being evaluated or wish to wait a while longer. We all have extremely valid reasons for our respective diagnosis statuses.

But there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re all autistic.

With very few exceptions, the people with whom I feel most at ease are neurodivergent in some way or another.

I often joke that my favorite people have a significantly higher than average chance of being autistic, if not otherwise neurodivergent.

But it’s not really a joke. It’s an accurate observation borne out by years of experience.

It’s difficult for me to quantify the benefits I’ve gained from interacting with my autistic friends – both online and in real life. After a lifetime of being invalidated and given horrible labels by nearly everyone who met me, the fact that I can comfortably interact with other autistics is absolutely incredible to me.

My autistic friends are a lifeline.

They remind me that my perceptions of the world are just as valid as the majority’s perceptions.

They remind me that I’m not alone, after living through three decades of feeling extremely alone.

They accept and love me for who I am instead of trying to change me into someone I’m not.

Their friendship is priceless to me. Your friendships are priceless to me.

Thank you so much for being your wonderful autistic self.

I love you all ❤

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