Struggles with social interaction are among the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. While these difficulties are commonly first observed in childhood, they may become embedded and more complex as individuals with ASD enter adolescence and adulthood. During this period, individuals with ASD may become increasingly aware of their social and behavioral differences, more motivated to engage in relationships, and develop more sophisticated understandings of friendship. Nevertheless, adolescents and adults with ASD continue to have few social opportunities and friendships.
Oftentimes parents and others mistakenly assume that individuals with ASD prefer to spend time alone. Certainly in the population of individuals with ASD – just like in the general population as a whole – there is a range in the amount of time an individual prefers to spend with others. All individuals need some time on their own, just as all need time to be social; how much of each is a personal preference.
Rather than preferring social isolation, many individuals with ASD resign themselves to it due to inability to initiate social interactions, confusion over how to develop a friendship or how to interpret social behaviors, lack of relationship success in the past, or other communication or behavioral problems. Another reason for the lack of friendships and social engagement in adulthood is the lack of organized activity. The majority of adults with ASD are unemployed and not in school. When high school ends, many individuals with ASD are left without a place to go where they can connect with peers.
In tomorrow’s post, we’ll discuss how important socialization is for adults with ASD, and how Cambridge Adult Day Center can help!