Online Peer Relationships for Autistic Children and Adults

making and keeping friendshipsThe internet has opened up a whole new opportunity for making and keeping friends, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. Online peer relationships have become the new normal for people of all ages and abilities. Taking advantage of online playgroups, interactive screen time programs, social networks, and services, online friendships for autistic children and adults can frequently translate into real-life relationships. All Friends Network is a social website, app, and resource for people of all ages with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities. Having an autistic friends network can make it easier for individuals to develop friendships without concerns about negative interactions.

Adapting to a Changing World

Many in-person activities, groups, and organizations suspended their programs in 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue meeting the needs of autistic children and adults to develop friendships, programs were created to encourage online peer relationships. Many were already using online resources to work on social skills required for making and keeping friends. It was realized that many of the tools, programs and support provided by in-person development groups were still possible through online autistic friends network programs. In fact, many individuals discovered that they were able to get more one-on-one support and skills practice with online resources than they did with in-person opportunities.

While some express concerns about isolation issues that could arise from focusing primarily on online peer relationships, others have come forward to say that the skills learned via websites and apps have translated seamlessly into real-life situations. All Friends Network strives to bring all of these elements together to create opportunities that include web-based resources and one-on-one skill-building support programs, interactive AFN Live-LINK app features, and in-person gatherings to encourage making and keeping friends in real life. It is essential to offer a variety of options to help those who want to build online friendships for autistic children and adults in order to appeal to the format that they prefer most to yield the best possible results.

The Success of Online Interaction

Communicating with others via the internet can help individuals to overcome certain challenges faced by those with developmental disabilities. Learning how to interact effectively can be difficult for children and adults on the autism spectrum, as there can be issues with both verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as attention problems and difficulties navigating an emotional response. The good news is that studies reveal that many individuals who have autism are able to demonstrate a natural intelligence when it comes to technology. This affinity can help to give them the confidence and encouragement they need to establish online peer relationships.

It is crucial to find opportunities that allow for safe and protected interaction with others online. The internet is filled with unfriendly and downright cruel individuals who seek to be rude and harmful to anyone that crosses their paths. This is true whether the person has autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities or not. All Friends Network seeks to provide our members with a safe and friendly environment focusing on meeting new friends, cultivating relationships, enhancing life skills, and preparing for a more meaningful, independent, productive life. In short, it is our mission to make All Friends Network be your first step toward a lifetime solution for making and keeping friends.

About All Friends Network, Inc.

As a Florida-based Non-Profit Corporation located in Sarasota, our primary objective is to help people of all ages with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities. We currently have many resources and planned group activities for our members. We have also released an interactive AFN Live-LINK app that is exclusively for our members to help connect everyone in a fun and exciting way. We have worked hard to establish a safe and friendly environment focusing on making and keeping friends. Whether you prefer in-person interaction or want to develop online friendships for autistic children and adults in our members-only area, you can count on All Friends Network to continue growing, evolving, and adding more opportunities in the future. To join, simply reach out to our team by sending us an email, calling us at 941-587-7172, or by using our online contact form to leave a message with one of our friendly staff members.