Supporting Your Friend's Child with Autism

A Friend's Guide to Autism

August 27, 2018

When your friend's child is diagnosed with autism, one of the ways you can help is by supporting her child. Your friend will appreciate that you want to interact with her child with autism.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Find out about the interests of the child, and ask him or her about them. Children with autism will be more willing to interact to the best of their ability if you ask them about something that is important to them.
  • If she is comfortable sharing, ask your friend if there are certain triggers that may upset their child or lead to meltdowns.
  • Keep your language as simple and concrete as possible, as people with autism are often very literal. But be sure to understand the difference between receptive and expressive language. Many children and adults with autism who may not be able to speak are fully capable of understanding what you are saying.
  • Figure out where your friend and her family are most comfortable. For some families, it is easier if you go to their houses. Some children with autism are more comfortable in their own homes. Some families may want to visit your home. If this is the case, you may want to ask your friend how you can make the visit the most comfortable for her child.
  • Provide your children with information about how to best interact with the child with autism. Keep in mind that not all families tell their child about his or her diagnosis.  The Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit has a helpful section to help peers of children with autism learn to interact with and support their friends.

Read more in a Friend’s Guide to Autism.

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You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or help@autismspeaks.org.