Hi Lifehacker, I have a friend with autism and they have a tendency to be very opinionated: they dismiss what they don’t know as “false facts” and aren’t interested in hearing alternative interpretations. It saddens me because then they won’t be able to know that they’re wrong.
I’d like my friend to lead a better life knowing more than what they themselves believe in; I can’t ignore it if they have inaccurate knowledge about something. I know how to talk to regular people, but I fear my inexperience with autism may be part of the issue. Any advice? Thanks, Forlorn Friend
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In this case, the right thing to do is simple: stop being so obsessed with being “right”. Autism brings lots of social challenges. Our knowledge of the condition is still fragmentary and how it manifests varies enormously between individuals, so it’s almost impossible to give generic advice on the topic. But your desire to help your friend “lead a better life” comes across as wanting to prove yourself more knowledgeable. Under any circumstances, that’s simply not a friendly attitude.
You say you can’t ignore it when your friend is wrong. I’d ask a simple question: why not? Being able to agree to disagree — to recognise that there are often areas where it’s simply not worth continuing the dispute — is a skill you’ll need to use to deal with almost everyone at times. Start working on that now.
There isn’t a magic bullet that will enable you to always make your point and win an argument. Accept that, and enjoy time with your friend on the activities you both find enjoyable. That’s the true mark of friendship. (As ever, we’d welcome additional input from readers in the comments.)
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