The Reality of Having Autism and Making Friends.
Ethan Hirschberg was diagnosed at age two with high-functioning anxiety. Now, at age seventeen, he has started a blog to write about his journey living with special needs, which he refuses to let stop him from achieving his goals. His blog features guest posts from experts, as well as his own stories of his daily life experiences along with his own ideas for improved interactions among educators, pathologists, and other caregivers. On his blog, The Journey Through Autism, he wrote an article titled, "Autism & Friendships: My Reality," which he wrote to highlight the ways in which he struggles to make and keep friends. He describes his experience as one that was challenging, but he managed to make a few great friends who he claims are a "small but mighty crew." For anyone with Autism Spectrum Disorder, making friends can be a constant challenge due to the lack of social skills that is mostly related to this diagnosis. Hirschberg tells a story of a time when he was given the opportunity to travel with a handful of kids his age and during that time he felt as if he created bonds with these other teenagers. However, when he left the retreat, he was confused as to what category he should now place them in, friend or acquaintance. He reports that he often feels isolated and struggles with the thought that these people who he so badly wants to be friends with, don't want to be friends with him. The boundaries that Hirschberg is breaking just by writing this blog are those that not everyone is courageous enough to do. He is setting such a great example for other young teenagers on the spectrum by just recognizing the things that he struggles with and the obstacles that he faces every single day. Admittedly, making friends is hard for almost everyone and putting yourself out there to be either accepted or rejected can be very overwhelming and scary. Acknowledging that there are just some people who need that extra nudge of reassurance when making friends in a social setting is the first step to accepting people of all walks of life in our society.