I Have Asperger Syndrome. How Do I Make New Friends?

I am 14 and starting a new high school. I have Asperger syndrome. Should I tell my classmates? At my last school I was bullied. I really want to fit in, and my parents have helped with choosing cool clothes and social skills classes. I want people to understand that I am a good, smart person and that I may act weird or immature but I can be a good friend. This is a school where no one knows me. What do you think I should do?
– Tom*

It sounds like you've prepared yourself well for starting a new school. Brushing up on social skills and choosing clothes you feel good in will definitely help you make a positive first impression. And what's just as important is your inner confidence: knowing that you are a good, smart person who can be a great friend! Feeling good about yourself helps attract new friends.

Use your social skills to meet people. Start by being friendly and just saying "hi" to people in your homeroom or other classes. Use confident, relaxed body language. Think ahead about conversation starters. It can help make talking to people easier.

Join an after-school activity that appeals to you. That way, you'll meet students who share your interests and who might make good friends. Talk to an adult at school — such as a teacher, advisor, or counselor. Ask if you can talk over your situation, and explain your hopes for the new school year. See if that adult can introduce you to students who might make good friends.

It's perfectly OK to let people know: "Hey, I have Asperger's so some things are difficult for me." If you own it, rather than try to hide it, there's less of a chance people will make fun of you for it. If you do get teased or bullied, be sure to let an adult know right away. You deserve a positive high school experience — one where your talents and strengths can shine, and others can appreciate your friendship, good character, and intelligence.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2010

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