Quick links: MyODP ASDNext AidInPA PhillyAP

Social Events & Meeting People Resource Collection

Overview

This is a bundle of resources aimed at helping individuals with autism prepare for social events and how to navigate meeting new people.

Questions to Think About Before Attending Social Events

I often find myself excited about events in my community and wanting to go to them. However, as a person who has Autism I need and want to put more thought into participating in an event than others might need to. Why do I need to think more about socializing than most people? Well, I find that preplanning and knowing what I need helps me be more confident, at ease, and “ready to go” with trying something new and meeting new people. It is also useful in troubleshooting and finding possible areas that might be difficult for me beforehand.

It is good to think about yourself because knowing your likes and dislikes makes it easier to answer the questions below. These questions are examples of what to ask yourself before going somewhere or trying something new. If needed, ask someone you trust to help you with answering these questions, researching events/groups, and preplanning.

What do you enjoy doing with other people?

Examples: bowling, playing board games, basketball, museum trip, cooking class, or amusement park outing.

What do you like to do?

Examples include reading, walking, video games, and swimming.

To look for an event: research groups or activities at places like local libraries, community centers, community colleges, internet cafes, and coffee shops.

    • Choose one that sounds fun, age-appropriate, and meets your interests.
    • If you cannot find one right away, keep checking the event calendars for these places every week to see if it’s updated with new activities.
    • You can also check out ASDNext’s social calendar to find events all throughout Pennsylvania! Social Calendar — ASDNext.org, an ASERT Website for Teens and Adults with Autism

 

Once you find an event you’re interested in, think about support:

    • Do you need or want support at this event? (Skip this section if support is not needed or wanted.) If YES, here are follow-up support questions:
      • How much support do you need or want?
      • Do you only need a person to drive, or do you need someone to stay with you?
        • If you only need transportation and feel comfortable, you can use Uber or Lyft if you have the money and a smart phone.
      • Is someone available to support you?
        • Make sure you ask someone with enough time in advance so they can plan and/or figure out if they want to go.
        • They may not want to go or be available to support you so you may need to ask somebody else. It is important not to lose your temper or be argumentative if they cannot support you.
      • Do you have options in who can support you?
        • It’s good to have options in case someone cannot go.
      • Would this person be okay with the outing or event?
      • Are they interested in this type of event or is this something that they wouldn’t like?
      • Are you able to figure out what you need beforehand and talk about these needs and expectations for the event with your support person?

Planning For an Event: Things to Do and Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going

If you have questions, ask someone.

If you have questions about the group or event, contact the group/event
coordinator if you need or want more details (such as the approximate
number of attendees and parking accommodations).

Try to check out the place (if public) ahead of time.

    • Do you feel comfortable going to this place?
    • What is the place like during the time of day and day of the week for the event?

How much time, energy, and money can/will you use towards meeting people?

    • Can you afford to do the activity and still pay your bills?
      • Be honest with yourself regarding your budget.

Before going, make sure you have enough money for the event in case you need to pay for a ticket or buy food.

Having money for emergencies is important too.

Do you have a transportation plan for both ways?

    • Having money for emergencies is important too.
    • Do you have a transportation plan for both ways?
      • Do you have a backup plan in case you need or want to leave early?
      • Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you plan to return, (especially if you don’t have a support person with you).

Getting Ready for Social Event: What to wear/what to bring.

Make sure your clothes are clean and appropriate.

    • Plan your outfit ahead of time. Check the weather and try to get an idea of how casual or formal the event will be.
      • Look online to see if the dress code is listed in the event information. If it’s not online, call the event coordinator or ask your support person what they are going to wear.

Make sure your outfit is in good condition.

    • This might help you feel more confident at the event. It also might prevent you from comparing yourself to others or worrying what others think of you/your appearance.

Make sure you smell good: Take care of body odor, shower, wear deodorant, etc.

    • Be careful with how much perfume or cologne you are wearing; too much can be overwhelming!
    • Remember, taking a shower ahead of time can be helpful in terms of making sure body odor is in check.

Make sure your hair is clean and styled appropriately.

    • Washing your hair while showering in the morning of or the night before the event can make it easier to style your hair.

Check your face and hands to make sure they’re clean.

    • Brush your teeth and make sure you don’t have anything in your
      teeth prior to the event.

Plan ahead, gather all items needed or wanted for group/event/activity.

    • Wear/bring shoes that fit the occasion.
    • Wear/bring a jacket if you get cold easily.
    • Make sure you have any fidget toys or other small objects you might want to use when stimming.
    • Bring anything else you may need or want when going to an event (cell phone, water, medicine, wallet/money).

Questions to Ask About Yourself Before Meeting Others.

Know what you want to talk about:

Shared interests, your hobbies, why you came to this event, etc.

Know what you DON’T want to talk about:

Anything personal or private.

  • Don’t do or say anything you don’t want to.
  • Mentally rehearse or role play some common topics of conversation.
    • The weather, hobbies, and favorite entertainment (TV shows, movies, books, or video games) are good topics to start with when meeting new people.
    • Think about what you want to share and if it’s appropriate to the event. If you’re having trouble with this, asking a trusted person can be helpful in figuring this out.

What do you want to learn or do while attending this event?

    • Example: maybe you want to learn a new skill, such as crocheting if this event is for a crocheting club.

What is your goal in going to this event?

    • Example: Maybe your goal is to meet new people, find a new hobby, or challenge yourself in social situations.

What are your strengths that make you a good friend/ person to know?

    • Rely on your strengths when meeting new people.
      • Example: Be kind to everyone there, ask lots of questions, and make sure people notice you’re interested by listening, nodding along, asking follow up questions.

Questions to Ask About Yourself Before Meeting Others

Sensory Differences

The ways that you perceive taste, sound, smell and touch could be more sensitive to you than it is for other people.

Example: a crowded meeting room with multiple people talking could be more overwhelming and confusing to you than other people who don’t have your sensory issues.

Stimming

Self-stimulating behaviors can be a repetitive movement  or vocalization that is thought to be self calming.

There are both positives and negatives associated with stimming. It can be calming to individuals in many settings. However, it can also be embarrassing or stigmatizing depending the context or people around.

Difficulty With Social Cues

Introducing yourself or joining a conversation, missing social cues to see if a person is interested or uninterested, and difficulty focusing or staying on topic are all common.

These are a few of the ways in which social difficulties can make it harder to meet new people.

Back and Forth Conversations

It can be confusing to know whose turn it is to speak and when to listen.

    • It can be confusing to know whose turn it is to speak and when to listen.
      • It can also be frustrating waiting your turn to contribute to the conversation.
      • It can also be easy to space out or lose your place in the conversation.
        • Staying on topic can also be an issue because it’s easy to get distracted and think about something that others may not associate with the conversation.

Unusual Hobbies or Interests

Having uncommon hobbies or interests can make it harder for others to connect or to keep your audience engaged.

Researching common interests beforehand could be helpful in connecting to others.

Unusual Outfit Choices

Wearing either outfits that are old, outdated, or inappropriate for the occasion/weather can be uncomfortable.

It can be confusing or overwhelming to figure out what to wear to each occasion and how to adapt it to your sensory needs.

Difficulty Finding Topics in Common

Sometimes it can be hard to find things in common with strangers.

Using common conversational starters like the weather, entertainment, family, sports, or current news can be good ways to find common interests that you share.

Past Negative Experiences

Overthinking past experiences can make it hard to form new impressions or be open to new experiences.

Those experiences can make doing new things or meeting new people very stressful or anxiety-provoking.

Difficulties Being Flexible

Going to an event or social occasion can involve many changes that occur quickly.

It can be difficult to adjust to different details than had previously been discussed.

Questions to Ask Yourself After Attending A New Social Event

After the event, you can process how it went by asking yourself some of these questions. These can help you decide if you enjoyed it and if you’d want to do something like it again.

Do you think it went well?

  • If YES, what did you like most about it?
  • If NO, what went wrong?
    • Were you uncomfortable?
    • Did you not like the specific activity or the people?
    • Was the environment overstimulating?

 

Did you receive enough support?

  • Will you need/want more or less support for future events and activities?
  • Do you need a different kind of support or were your support needs adequately met?

Did you spend more time than you planned or did you feel pressured to spend more time than you wanted to?

How much energy did you use?

Was it fun? Worthwhile? And/or something you want to do again?

Did you enjoy the activity you were doing?

 

Do you like the people you met?

Do you think this is the right social group/activity for you?

 

Did you need to take a break during or after the event?

  • Were you able to find a space to relax in?
  • Was the break sufficient enough to help you feel rejuvenated?

Are you willing to attend another event/activity/social group again?

Rate this resource

Thank you for rating this resource!

Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Questions to Think About Before Attending a Social Event This resource provides information for individuals with autism on how to plan for attending a social event. pdf Download file: Questions to Think About Before Attending a Social Event
Getting Ready for A Social Event/Activity: What to Wear/What to Bring This resource provides a list of items and tasks to ensure are ready before attending a social event or activity. pdf Download file: Getting Ready for A Social Event/Activity: What to Wear/What to Bring
Why Having Autism Might Make Social Events More Difficult This resource provides information for individuals with autism about reasons why having autism can make attending social events a more difficult experience. pdf Download file: Why Having Autism Might Make Social Events More Difficult
Questions to Ask About Yourself Before Meeting Others This resource provides information for individuals with autism on how to plan for a social event by asking themselves thoughtful questions. pdf Download file: Questions to Ask About Yourself Before Meeting Others
Questions to Ask Yourself After Attending A New Social Event/Activity This resource provides individuals with autism with a list of questions to consider after attending a social event to decide if it was a good fit. pdf Download file: Questions to Ask Yourself After Attending A New Social Event/Activity

This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.