During the teenage years, friendships for typical adolescents are often based on shared interests such as academic achievements, mutual participation in sports and the arts. Friendship becomes the primary focus for their time, interest and energy, and a major source of self-identity and self-esteem. By contrast, the autistic teenager typically has fewer friends, meeting with friends less often at school and for a shorter duration. Autistic adolescents often sense their difference to their peers and feel that others do not want to be around them. Autistic adolescents often blame themselves for their peer rejection and become anxious to avoid socialising. A lack of genuine social acceptance by peers will obviously adversely affect the development of self-esteem, self-identity, and perception of autism.
We created this presentation for parents and professionals to explain the friendship challenges and provide ideas and strategies for increasing friendship success for autistic adolescents at high school.
About the speakers
Prof Tony Attwood PhD With a career spanning five decades, Professor Tony Attwood is considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts on Autism Spectrum Disorder. He currently works in his own private practice and is also an adjunct professor at Griffith University, Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. His book Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals has sold over 500,000 copies and has been translated into 27 languages. His subsequent book, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, published in October 2006, has sold over 300,000 copies and has been translated into 18 languages, and is one of the primary textbooks on Asperger’s syndrome, otherwise known as Autism Spectrum Disorder – Level 1. Tony has been a sole and joint author for a further 14 subsequent books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Future Horizons Inc. and Guilford Press. He has also contributed to 38 research papers and 22 book chapters.
Dr Michelle Garnett PhD Dr Michelle Garnett is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in autism for three decades. Her peer-reviewed research has informed understanding of early detection, the female profile and the importance of good mental health for autistic individuals. She has co-authored seven highly regarded books on autism, six with Prof Tony Attwood. Her most recent book, Autism Working: A Seven-Stage Plan to Thriving at Work lays out a practical plan for autistic adolescents and adults to thrive at work, including how to onboard an autistic employee. Her 2019 book with Barb Cook is a seminal work on the female presentation, Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism. She co-wrote Having Fun with Feelings on the Autism Spectrum and Ten Steps to Reducing Your Child’s Anxiety on the Autism Spectrum to provide guidance to parents of young autistic children. She runs a private practice in Brisbane, Australia, and regularly provides training in autism nationally and internationally.