According to reports and research, individuals with autism have a tough time building and maintaining friendships because they are unsure of how to respond to social cues. Part of the difficulty, likewise, comes from ambiguity and intonations of spoken language. To alleviate this situation and facilitate friendship building I encourage, parents of children with autism to encourage their children to communicate in writing, whether by hand or online.
Individuals with autism often find it much easier to ‘talk’ in the written form for a number of reasons. First, there is no eye contact required, which is a major stress-inducer for the vast majority of people with autism. Secondly, the issue of social cues becomes irrelevant.
Since, in writing, the writer cannot depend on the reader to “interpret” variable meanings in a message, he or she must then be more specific in the written form than in the spoken. Additionally, communicating in writing allows the reader [with autism] more time to understand the message that is being conveyed. They have the opportunity to re-read a letter as many times as they want, and do not feel as much pressure to provide an immediate response.
For parents: Once this skill is acquired by your child with autism, this could prove to be a good tool to use when you have something important to tell or discuss with your child with autism, or something you want to work out with him or her. This type of “written interaction” may also give your child a greater outlook, though the opportunity to express him or herself in writing. Thus in turn it may open up a new channel of clear-communication that previously didn’t exist before. Parents should also encourage children to communicate with their friends, perhaps occasionally, in such a manner. Always remember to monitor your child carefully, depending on his level of independence and ability to make sound judgments.
For Parents of teens and adults: Depending on the age of the individual with autism, he or she may even be able to use this skill to build new friendships online. As always, anyone going into online communities or chat websites should be careful to not give out personal information. And, if need be, provide an appropriate level of monitoring for the individual with autism, while he or she is online.