Making Friends as Someone With Hearing Loss Who’s on the Autism Spectrum
I have learned over the years there are different kinds of friendships. There are people who say they are your friends, but they might not talk to you or get along with you. And there are others who contact you to get together. I am not saying I don’t have friends, but making and maintaining friends is really difficult for me. With hearing loss and being on the autism spectrum, listening to conversations and reading body language can be difficult.
I missed out on learning communication and social skills when I was young. This was supposed to help me understand the social environment and improve my ability to communicate. Though everyone is different, people tend to have a lack of empathy toward those who are perceived as more different than others. They tend to get uncomfortable quickly because of the assumptions they make. Unfortunately, I experienced this my whole life. I struggled to make and keep friends because I the people I met didn’t understand me. It’s mostly the times I would ask people to hang out, and I expected them to say hello and ask me to hang out or chat with me. I waited and waited. Then I realized they were too busy with something else. I may be appear standoffish in conversations, but I find it offensive when people say I do. It feels like it’s criticizing the way I am.
Because of hearing loss challenges, I tend to miss out on a lot of verbal parts of conversations. And being on the autism spectrum, I can miss out on nonverbal signals. They conflict with each other. It makes it confusing for my friends and the people I meet because my language is different. I learned to live in a different way, but sometimes people expect everyone to be the same.
If I learn how to communicate and read social situations with people who aren’t autistic, they should be available and accepting of me. Working with counselors and psychologists has not improved my situation. I have been doing this for seven years, soon to be eight years. Learning theories does not make life easier for me on the practical side. I want to learn the skills from friends and people who get along with me and try to understand me, not from professionals.
After I spoke to several people who have autism spectrum disorder, they agreed with me that making friends can be so difficult. We have needs and should be able to find friends and have relationships. I want to have friends and a relationship. Unfortunately, autistics can struggle with this opportunity in a society where there is a lack of empathy toward those of us who want to have friends and relationships. We won’t have this opportunity unless our differences are accepted.
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