4 mins read

Dissolving Friendships with Kids on the Autism Spectrum

We all have friendships. And, somewhere along the way many of us have had to walk away from a friendship or two—for whatever reason.

Friendships happen in many ways, with or without our kids.

With kids, I’d like to address two situations…

One is when parents are friends, and they get their children together. The children may or may not like each other, but the parents like each other.

It works out well when the kids do get along, of course.

A second situation is what if kids like each other but the adults aren’t crazy about each other?

There are all sorts of situations, right? (These are only two examples.)

What happens when friendships change?

How can a kid undo a friendship, no matter the situation?

Friendships come and go. That may be a sad statement, but it packs a lot of truth.

As I stated above, there are times when you may not be all that friendly with the parents of the kids that your own child likes.

Or, the kids may have a falling out, or just naturally drift away from each other.

For whatever reason, the kids just don’t want to be friends anymore.

This is true of typical kids, not just kids on the autism spectrum.

However, how does autism complicate breaking up of friendships?

Two children with autism are friends when they’re younger, the parents may even be friendly as well, but then, as the kids got older, things may have changed.

Tying this blog in with last week’s blog, The Impacts of Not Curbing Behaviors Related to Autism, what happens when one child with autism has progressed far ahead of another child?

What if one child recognizes that he/she has progressed further than that child?

What if that child wants to end the friendship?

If the adults get along, it’s not easy.

Hopefully, parents recognize that the two kids don’t want to get together anymore, or one of them doesn’t want to get together anymore.

Nothing wrong with that. These things happen.

There’s nothing stopping the adults from getting together on their own. The parents simply acknowledge that, for whatever reasons, their kids drifted apart.

The kids can be fine with other friends, even though it’s understood that our kiddos may not have a whole lot of friends. Friendships for our kids do not come easily.

Still, if they have to move on, or if the adults have to move on, then it’s in their best interest.

How do you handle these situations?

Circling back to the situation where one child have progressed much further than the other child…

How do you handle the more “advanced” child recognizing that he/she doesn’t want to be friends with the other child anymore?

One child can simply be more advanced in social situations and now be able to recognize it. They don’t mean to be harmful, they just need to move on.

What can a parent do? How do the parents handle it?

Be gentle, of course. Respectful.

Listen to your child. If yours is the more progressed child, listen to their reasons for their need to move on. If your child is the less-progressed child, try to explain that “Johnny” or “Sarah” wants to spend more time with other friends. It’s not about them, it’s just a natural thing.

If the child requests a change, the parents have to approach the parents of the other child and be open and honest. Kids want these changes sometimes, and we have to respect their wishes.

It’s okay if kids realize on their own that a friendship doesn’t work for him/her anymore.

Hopefully, they have the advanced communicative abilities to explain how their feeling.

That needs to be commended. And supported.

We have to support our own kid as well as the other child and the child’s parents.

Be as gentle as you can with all parties involved. These are kids and other parents. Our kids are on the autism spectrum. That in itself comes with more challenges. No wants to hurt other people. Be patient, kind, and listen to each other. Dissolving Friendships with Kids on the Autism Spectrum


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