Autism and Talking to Strangers

Autism and Talking to Strangers

“Mommy, can I go talk to other people?”

These sweet words were spoken to me recently by my son.

Where were we?

Once or twice a winter, my son and I drive up through the Angeles National Forrest. We live in the foothills below the San Gabriel Mountains, so this drive is easy for us.

During past winters, our goal was to “drive to the snow.” My son always wanted to “visit” the snow once or twice every winter. He likes to sled and “throw snowballs at Mommy.”

We’d also visit the mountains at other times of the year—just to see them.

Love of mountains

My son and I love mountains and it’s easy for us to get up there.

Recently, just a few days after a huge storm swept through the area, my son and I went in search of snow. We took the Angeles Crest Highway as far as it would go, which means that the road is blocked at a certain point during the winter months.

We stopped at the blockage and stayed there for a bit. There were other families there, places to sled, and I took a walk for a bit.

I remember my son telling me that (while I was walking) he went sledding and talked to people.

When we were done there, we made a second stop at an even better sledding place.

There were more people there.

It was at this location my son asked me, “Mommy, can I go talk to other people?”

“Yes, of course,” I said.

Why are these words so sweet?

I have a child with autism. Generally, it is difficult for people with autism to communicate with other people. And, when they do, they are often “awkward.” It takes a long time for our kids to learn social skills. Those skills do not come naturally.

As my son grows older, he’s actually beginning to enjoy talking to new people.

That is why those words were so sweet to me. I’ve seen him do that more and more in the last few years. Either ask to talk to new people, or sometimes just do it himself.

Now that progress. Autism progress. It’s so so sweet.

Are there any restrictions?

Of course.

Not all strangers want to be approached. My son has to learn this.

He also has to learn that’s it’s not always appropriate to approach everyone. There’s a safe time and place.

When we were among other folks who were just sledding with their kids, it was safe. The folks were friendly and welcoming.

Not every stranger

We do not encourage our son to go up to every stranger in every location possible.

That’s just not possible nor is it the right thing for us to be teaching him.

It’s great that our son with autism has a desire to approach new people and have a conversation.

Nothing wrong with that.

As long as it’s safe and respectful and appropriate.

Autism and Talking to Strangers

Here are some stranger danger situations and advice:


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