Why Do People With Autism Have Difficulty Socializing With Others?

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Autism spectrum disorder affects many people and affects individuals to varying degrees. You might not know this, but people with autism can have difficulty interacting with others in a social setting.

Why do people with autism struggle to socialize, and how can you help your autistic friend, child, or family member to feel more comfortable?

Keep reading as we discuss why people with autism have difficulty socializing with others and the different coping strategies you can implement.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a term used to describe people with a disability caused by neurological differences or a different brain composition. It can be difficult to know how to explain autism to a child without autism, but taking the time to do so can help your little one to be more sensitive to others.

This ‘neurodivergence’, or ‘difference in the brain’, can lead to many differences in how those with ASD behave. An individual with ASD may engage in repetitive behaviors, have difficulty with change, or interact with others differently than neurotypical people.

There is nothing to say that ASD is caused by nurture. It is caused by a difference in the brain that develops in-utero. People are born with autism spectrum disorder, and it’s something they must live with for their entire lives, finding coping strategies to live a healthy and fulfilled life.

How Does Autism Affect Behavior?

To help you understand why autism may affect one’s ability to socialize comfortably with others, here we will discuss the different signs and symptoms of autism in terms of behavior. If you’re unsure, a friend or acquaintance might have ASD, look for some of these symptoms. Of course, these symptoms can also be present in neurotypical individuals.

  • Repetitive motions – you might notice someone with ASD rubbing their hands together, rocking, or performing other repetitive and excessive motions.
  • Self-harming behaviors – if someone has ASD, they may bang their head or bite themselves regularly.
  • Routines – repetition is at the heart of ASD, and many people with ASD become overwhelmed with the slightest alteration in their patterns.
  • Exaggerated movements – someone with ASD may move their body in ways that seem excessive or abnormal to neurotypical people.
  • Sensitivity – if someone you know has ASD, they may be sensitive to loud noises and light. Also, they may be insensitive to pain and temperature.
  • No play-acting – adults and children with ASD cannot ‘play act’, and in adults, this can display a lack of understanding for sarcasm or irony.
  • Hyperfixation – someone with ASD may be hyperfocused on an object or activity. For instance, they may find the parts that make up a thing fascinating without knowing the purpose of the object.
  • Intolerance of certain foods – it is common to see people with ASD avoiding certain foods and only eating a strict diet of the same foods daily. Any difference in their food could be distressing.

In terms of socialization, the person with ASD might be overwhelmed by the thought of interacting with new people. They might also struggle to adapt to different social situations. Sometimes, the person with ASD can come across as unempathetic due to a lack of understanding. For these reasons, it’s crucial to recognize ASD in others and make an effort to help them feel comfortable.

How To Make Someone With ASD Feel More Comfortable In A Social Setting?

While you cannot make someone with ASD feel entirely comfortable in a social setting, there are some adjustments you can make to ensure you’re not contributing to their discomfort. Try these best practices to help your loved one with ASD in social settings:

  • Try not to interrupt – talking over someone with ASD could make them feel overwhelmed. So, give them the floor to speak and try not to interrupt.
  • Always respond if they ask for help – letting your friend with ASD know they can ask you for use at any time will help make them feel more comfortable. If they need to leave the social setting, you can escort them somewhere they don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Be sensitive – rather than correct your loved one, be exposed to the reassurance they might need in that situation.
  • Include them in the conversation – asking your loved one questions in a social setting can help them get involved and stop them from feeling lost or uncomfortable.


Autism is something that can affect every facet of an individual’s life. Unfortunately, this can also mean that people with Autism struggle to socialize. So, if you know someone with Autism, you should be sensitive to their needs and try introducing them to new people to expand their social circle. With you there, your friend or loved one can get the support they need to branch out and improve their quality of life with more social interaction. For more information on this subject, check out this Serenity Kids blog post about how to explain autism to kids.

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