Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 2 - Page 49

Mostly, I think finding the right people has been the key to my relationships. Focus on those people who let you be you and understand what you need and what you are able to give instead of struggling to get along with people who want you to be someone you’re not. Jean “Stimey” Winegardner Help your child find traits in common with another person and then use those common traits as talking points. That’s what I do! For me, the easiest way to make friends has always been in the context of a shared interest. Identify some activities that your child really enjoys doing and then help them find ways to do those things with other children their age. For example, join a Lego club, an afterschool science program, or a ballet class. There they’ll meet kids who have similar interests, which can create a natural basis for social interaction within and outside of the group. I also think it’s important to emphasize quality over quantity, so if a child is comfortable with just one or two good friends, don’t push them to have more. Cynthia Kim Jay Fuentes, 13 Why Not Try This? Below are a few resources to help get you started. If you can’t find a group for yourself or your child, think about starting one! You have nothing to lose and a bunch of possible friends to gain! • ASAN - Autistic Self Advocacy Network–With chapters across the US and international affiliates, this organization’s goal is to build a collective concept of self-advocacy while also addressing individual forms of self-advocacy and building a community of autistic adults in the local community. They also have a teen mentoring program and many social activities. • Autism Society of America–The Autism Society has 107 affiliates nationwide, sponsoring local programs such as Safe and Sound, camps, respite care and social skills events. They also host a yearly conference, which is an excellent opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. • Autism MeetUp–With 521 groups and over 45,000 members in 322 cities across 16 different countries, this is a great resource to find a possible support group in your local area. • The Internet is also a place where you can find people who share your special interests. They might not live near you, but you can still exchange ideas and discuss your favorite topics virtually. One popular forum for people on the spectrum is Wrong Planet, and many others are out there. Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses 49