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How To Be a Friend To My Son With Autism

By By Carissa Garabedian, publisher of Macaroni Kid Richmond, Va. March 15, 2019

I spend a lot of time wishing Marky, my son who has autism, had friends.

He has few real relationships to speak of with kids his age, which makes me sad. I do not know if it makes him sad because he doesn’t say. He spends much of his time alone and he seems happy with that. But, as his mom, I wish for more.

But one day recently, someone asked me how their son could be Marky’s friend. That got me thinking and here are some suggestions I came up with:

1. Engage him

Have a question or two? Ask away! Tell him something you enjoy. He may not say much or ask you any questions, but he listens and will reply. Don’t understand something he is doing or saying? Ask him, you’ll understand his answers.

2. Be patient 

Don’t be in a rush. Allow the time together to just be in the moment.

3. Be kind

He has such an inner sense of when people are being sincere. If your intentions aren’t sincere, he will feel it. Laugh with him, NOT at him.

4. Accept him as he is

Don’t try to change him. In fact, he may end up teaching you a thing or two! Don't spend time with him out of pity, and remember you are not babysitting him. In fact, he is capable of a lot! But he may need your direction at times.

5. Remember him "next time"

If you enjoyed spending time with him, think about doing it again or including him in something else.

Spending time with kids with special needs can be incredibly rewarding, and for those who spend time with Marky, they find that a relationship with him is one of the easiest, most sincere, and laid back relationships they have.

As his mom, I'd love it if you remember Marky -- and kids like Marky -- and include them as friends in your child's life.

The photo at the top of this story is of Marky and his buddies, Kestin and Meredith. 

Carissa Garabedian is the publisher of Know Different and mother to a special needs child in Richmond, Va. Carissa also publishes Macaroni Kid Richmond, Va.