Social networking, online discussion boards, apps, and other technology-driven platforms often provide people with the opportunity to make what are known as virtual friendships. But what if you want your virtual friends to become real-life friends? How do you go about making the transition? It can be even more challenging for individuals who have difficulties with social skills and autism or other developmental disabilities. Learning how to forge friendships at real life events and opportunities for in-person networking can be difficult, but the payoff could be significant. Friendships, relationships, and other types of social engagements are the keys to independent living. Learning how to be on your own, talk with others, and find common interests is what connects all humans together, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
Increase Personal Engagement
So there’s a person that you talk with in a group of other friends via an online networking community that you think could be a real life friend. How do you go about talking with them to see if they feel a similar connection? One way is to try to communicate with the person in different ways apart from the platform that you are currently using. If you are in a group message board, chat, or group, ask if you could email something to them or text them about a matter of shared interest. Striking up a personal conversation via private messaging can help you to talk about topics that you might not otherwise discuss in front of the group. You might be surprised just how much you have in common!
Don’t Rush In-Person Meetings
Working on issues with social skills and autism can mean taking your time before jumping into new and in-person relationships. This is good and sound advice for anyone who meets people via an unchecked online resource. The people are not pre-vetted or checked out in any way to ensure that they are who they say they are, and there’s a lot of catfishing, both for friendships and romantic relationships, around in the world today. Spend lots of days, weeks, and even months of back-and-forth messaging, banter, and conversations before you even think about meeting someone in real life. Check out the person’s social media accounts to ensure that they are who they say they are and never agree to meet someone unless you feel completely comfortable with the situation.
Consider Video Chatting
One way to kick your online friendship into high gear without putting anyone at-risk is to discuss having a Facetime, Skype, or another type of video chat experience. This can help you to learn more about the person, put a face to an online name, and see them in a whole new way. Trust is essential in developing friendships and, lacking real life events and opportunities to meet face-to-face, video chat is an excellent substitute. You may never end up meeting this person in real life due to a distance separating you or other issues that may prevent it, but there are lots of people who still feel as though their online friends are real friends, even if they never meet in person.
Consider Joining an Online Community
All Friends Network is an online networking community designed specifically for individuals who have autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disorders. It is a safe space where you can work on overcoming issues regarding social skills and autism, make new friends, talk about independent living, and even take advantage of real life events and opportunities to meet up in person. All of our events, Live-LINK app access, and other resources are restricted to members of All Friends Network. If you would like to learn more about our events, resources, and other support programs, contact our team directly via our website or by calling 941-587-7172. We can answer any questions you might have about our network and the programs available to our members. Call today and take the steps necessary to find a safe place for working on friendships with other members who have similar concerns, considerations, and goals when it comes to learning how to make and keep friends.