Resolution for Inclusion: Autistics need deep, quality friendships

For Autistic people like myself, the feeling of wanting to be included can be so overwhelming.

I never got invited to stuff outside of school. A lot of that was because people thought I was weird, and it wasn’t fair. Hearing stories of how other autistic people felt socially awkward or isolated during school motivated me to become an advocate to try to make a difference for the autistic community.

I could ask these 3 questions to understand if anyone ever felt the way I did:

  1. How many of you walk into school every day and wonder if anyone really cares?
  2. How many of you wonder whether you’re watching the right shows, if your clothes are cool enough, or if you are listening to the right music to relate to anybody?
  3. How many of you have ever been hurt when you found out about a party or social event you were never invited to?

I remember back in high school, an old classmate told me to try and stop being autistic for like 5 minutes, and that really made my blood boil.

In college, a group of people wouldn’t let me hang with them because they thought I wasn’t enough. I love to play video games, and I do tend to get a little overcompetitive sometimes. I know I can be annoying, and sometimes I don’t realize it, because that’s how I am.

I’m not ashamed of it. It’s the real friends who will forgive that and remember that we all just want to be loved for who we are— not because we’re different, but because we’re human.

Don’t you just get tired of going out of your way to prove people wrong when they tell you you’re not enough of something or whatever?

There could even be groups who don’t accept you when you aren’t a certain way even if they’re autistic, too, and that’s just as bad.

Also, most of us are tired of feeling like or being afterthoughts like I feel sometimes. We feel forgotten, pushed aside, and are treated like background characters.

We want people who actually like us, want to talk to us, hang out with us, and put in as much effort as we do. Most are tired of wondering or game guessing as well. I care about people, but it hurts if they don’t care about me in return and just string me along.

What most people should learn is that even if some autistics struggle more than others socially, there’s no one way or right way to be autistic—or to be anything. There’s just you being you.

Maybe I am awkward, goofy, and intense, but I’m just unique. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

This post is by Ryan Lee. To follow him on Instagram, click here (, to see his website, click here (

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13 Responses

  1. My take on friendships… I am 49, and have long since stopped caring about being “cool” – the privilege of being middle aged is that it doesn’t matter at my age. I left school years ago.

    I have never really cared about being “cool”. I wouldn’t be bothered if a set of people were the coolest on the planet. If I have nothing in common with them, I don’t mind. I live my own life, wear what I like, do what I enjoy and make NO effort to be accepted.

    I am looking for other people with whom I have a decent amount of common ground. Do you have an invisible disability? Is your brain on another operating system? Do you have hobbies in common with me? Music and creative stuff? Do you love books? Do you love 80s music? Those are my bag. I also love infodumping and having in-depth knowledgeable conversations, I don’t do small talk, so if you’re a likeminded person, I think we’d get on well! I don’t care if other people have said you’re uncool, you’re alright by me! Being cool is subjective anyway, and I can’t go for that, as Hall and Oates sang back in the 80s!

    Maybe NTs can be happy with “friendships” where there’s not much common ground, but I need stronger bonds and more overlap.

  2. I fully embrace being by neurotypical standards awkward, goofy and intense! I have unusual passionate interests, I revel and rejoice in my difference from the ‘norm”. I love my intense interests, beliefs and commitments. I would never want to be anything other than my unique self. Look out for the people who appreciate you for the unique individual you are. Yes, sometimes you wait can be lonely but the result is worth it.

  3. I agree—the feeling of wanting to be included is incredibly overwhelming. To my mind, that’s a pretty good clue that that’s a feeling we aren’t meant to be subjected to.

    I often feel excluded for being myself, and nothing takes away the horrible feeling of that. But it does help me to understand the following anthropological point of view: being accepted for who we are and being included in our group or community—in whatever way is appropriate for each one of us as unique persons (even if we’re weird, annoying, awkward, intense, etc)—ought to be an unquestioned fact of life, something we never, ever have to worry about. From my reading of anthropology, that’s how it was for most of human existence. Everyone was granted permanent, unconditional acceptance and inclusion in the group (unless they did something absolutely horrible that put the group in serious danger). That’s the true human norm, even if that isn’t what we usually experience today. I find it helpful to know that that’s the norm because it tells me that feeling rejected and excluded is not just a problem with me. It means something is wrong with our current way of life.

    Somewhere along the way, we turned acceptance and inclusion into something to dole out or withhold, something to earn through stress and struggle. We’ve turned the one thing that we all need to be given for free and right from the very beginning—because we can’t function properly otherwise—into a reward that we only get after the fact, only if we conform to arbitrary standards. This completely stands reality on its head.

    It seems like most people in our society have forgotten that acceptance-inclusion is supposed to be the default norm. They act like the “reward system” is normal and ok. My hope is that more people will somehow remember what the true norm is and refuse to treat acceptance/inclusion like a reward to be earned.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I’m currently single and have no friends. I hate being all alone. I’m so tired of it.

  5. So sorry you go through those things Ryan. Unfortunately, people’s reactions are in large part due to their ignorance. Thanks for sharing how you feel!

    thank you. Thank you for everything you do.

  7. You’ve created so many great articles here, that I’ve read yours a few times. Much of your point of view is in line with mine. This is great content for your readers. Please keep sharing!

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