Networking for Autism: Making Friends

by J

As a small business owner, I understand the power and importance of networking as it is critical to success for most small businesses. However, I never really thought about ‘networking’ in regards to autism. What I have found, is that over the past year or so, I’ve had a lot of trouble connecting with other mommies- mommies of both NT and children with autism. We don’t discuss S’s autism with many people and only a handful of our close friends and family know. Sadly, I can’t even say that I have many close friends.

When I was in my late teens, most of my friends got into drugs and so I created a lot of distance from those people, who at one time were some of my nearest and dearest friends. As they drifted out of my life, I got busy with work, school, a husband and building my own business.  As such, I really didn’t take the time to forge many new friendships. My husband and I are late-in-lifers. He is in his 40s and I am in my mid 3os. Most of our friends our age have children heading into middle or high school and most of the mommies that I meet on the playground are in their early 20s. This makes it rather difficult for me to meet new mommies that have similar interests as I do.

Recently, I attended my first autism support group meeting at our local autism society chapter. I have put off going, as I mostly expected it to be a bunch of stressed out families bitching about their lives. However, I was pleased to find a diverse group of families, all coming together to bounce ideas, strategies and concerns off of each other. They had a guest speaker, a child psychologist, that came and spoke on the topic of “making friends”, which was rather ironic, since that is the exact reason I decided to finally attend. I so want to make friends with other mommies and put S in safe environments to make friends with other children. So, I was excited to learn that our local chapter offers monthly autism-friendly social events for its members. This month, will be a Build-A-Bear workshop at the mall, before hours. I’ve signed us up for the event and I really hope to meet some other families that have an idea of what we are going through.

So here I am, networking or really, friend dating. And quite frankly, I’m so over it. It shouldn’t be this hard. But, I guess nothing is really easy with a special needs child. Hopefully, I will be able to find other families that can relate and we can help make it easier on each other.