Florida Frenz Gives Advice About Friendship

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Our Friend, Florida Frenz wrote this letter when she was twelve. A younger girl wrote letters to Florida, asking her for advice. Florida’s views on friendship reflects her perspective as a girl with autism. We thought that the advice Florida gave her was so good that we wanted to share it with you. You can read more of her letters on our social-emotional page.

Everyone should read her book: How to Be Human; Diary of an Autistic Girl.

Florida Frenz Author Picture

Here is Florida’s advice on friendship. (I am happy to report that Florida is a thriving high school student with a wonderful circle of friends.):

Rachel-

Some friends aren’t meant to have a ton of friends. When I was your age I became quite sad when I just couldn’t figure out how to be the popular girl in my group. Having a few good friends wasn’t enough. Also, I wanted a very close girlfriend A.K.A a best friend, forever. Since then, I’ve found neither but I’m still happy. Why? With being popular there would be a sacrifice of your personal space and free time. Instead it would be filled with playdates and phone calls which in small quantities are fun, but in the quantities popular girls get are overwhelming. As for best friends forever, it’s sooo nice to have a few close friends but 1 best friend forever could get boring. If you think about people as stories than you’d want a few great stories you know well, a lot of good stories you don’t know as well, mixed in occasionally with a new, unknown story. If you had just 1 best friend forever than it would be like knowing 1 story so well that you could chant it in your sleep. Yet if your to popular than you hear too many stories and forget them all. It’s good to have the perfect balance in the middle of those where you may not be the most popular, but you’re happy.

                                                               – Florida

(Update: Since Florida wrote this letter she has made many close friendships including that elusive BFF.)

Friendship Meter 2

When a younger child with special needs started writing to Florida for advice on how to handle “otherness”, Florida responded with some priceless recommendations based on her own experiences: 

“Dear Rachel,
When I learned I was Autistic, I cried about it for many months. It was good to know why I was different and why I had adults helping me and not other children around. Still it was sad knowing that I possessed a disability that I hadn’t asked anyone for and that would make me unable to do some things for the rest of my life. It’s so unfair to have to work so much harder on so many things!
Grrr! That still makes me sad and frustrated now.
The good thing is most of the time, I really don’t think about having Autism now, because I realized that constantly grieving wouldn’t get me anywhere and that our strengths are more important to making us successful than most of our weaknesses. Be sure to work on your weaknesses, too, though.”
— Florida

Florida Frenz Postcard

Florida gives advice on handling hurt feelings:

“Dear Rachel, 

I used to get hurt feelings from people around me, but not understand they were hurt or why. Later (hours, days, weeks, even months afterwards), I would suddenly explode about something I usually could handle, and Shelah (my therapist) would guess something was up. When you’re upset over something, it’s even harder to process your feelings and put words to your emotions. Shelah often had to let me explain the full story and then suggest many different feelings I could have before I could say how I felt and why.
Eventually, I learned to do this for myself. The key was constantly being open and honest with myself.
Being like that takes practice, but if you work on constantly processing your feelings, then one day, you’ll be able to do it on your own.”
— Florida

And my personal favorite- How to distract teachers:

“Dear Rachel,
Since you asked, here’s my list of Slick Tricks for Distracting Teachers:

1) THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE!

THE CHAT BOMB!
This can work miracles when applied right. Often we use this in my English class and reduce the work period to a half hour or less! Here’s how to do it. 

Ask the person a complicated question, not one like, “What’s your favorite color?” Because that has a simple answer. If you ask a complicated question, you’ll get a complicated answer, which might inspire more questions from you which will get a conversation going. Once that happens, the chat bomb has been released.

2) THE BATHROOM
It isn’t uncommon for people to spend as much as ten minutes in the bathroom, so if you just need a little break, just lie, saying you need to go. This should give you a safe ten to fifteen minutes. However, if you take twenty in the “bathroom,” people will get suspicious and you’ll get into trouble. Also, you can’t just spend that time wandering around randomly. You need to literally walk to the bathroom and shut the stall door. People will get suspicious if they see a random kid wandering around during class time and you’ll be in trouble. The bathroom technique is best used when you’re upset and you don’t want others to see you cry. Simply excuse yourself for the bathroom and cry behind a closed stall.

3) LOSING OR DROPPING SOMETHING
Pretend to lose something and spend a bit of time searching for it. This isn’t the best or the funnest, but will still
work. Also you can purposefully-accidentally-on-purpose drop your pencil and pretend that you can’t reach it, no matter how hard you try. Eventually someone will come along and help you, but it’s still worth a try.

Remember, these tricks are precious. Use them sparingly. You MAY get into trouble using any of the tricks above too much.

Try the Chat Bomb first.”

— Florida

For more information on services and resources for families affected by autism visit our Resource page.

Read more from Florida Frenz:

social skills and autism
More Insights on Autism from Florida Frenz
Florida Frenz talks about being autistic.
Florida Frenz talks about being autistic.
How to Be Human Lessons and Activities
How to Be Human Lessons and Activities

56 Comments


  1. Some really good advice here! We could all learn something from this girl 🙂 Thanks for sharing at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

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  2. Really quite a smart person. Very good outlook.

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    1. She does have a good outlook.

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  3. sometimes two or three friends is all you need in life as long as they are loyal

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  4. How nice that she had saved all these letters. I am an introvert, too and didn’t have many friends. But the few friends that I have are true friends and they have stayed with me all throughout the years.

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  5. Florida sure sounds very insightful.

    This also sounds like a great read!

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    1. Her book, How to be Human, is amazing!

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  6. I normally don’t trust people that easily as I’ve learned from various situations that sometimes, people are only there when they need you or when they are just curious about your life. This is a powerful post. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I definitely agree that not everyone is meant to have a ton of friends. I have always been content in life with just a few close friends.

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  8. This is so cool. Florida sounds like such a sweet, caring person with a huge heart. I love that she has since found some BFF’s.

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  9. I am picky with friends. I have a Bff for about 20 years. I also hang out with same circle of friends for 13 years since I arrived in America.

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  10. This is a very great article that is much appreciated by me who is also an introvert in many ways. Very few people are part of my inner circle and that is how I like it. Really appreciate this post.

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    1. She is amazing. Just about to start college.

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  11. I’m a pretty self-sufficient introvert. People are fine, but I keep most at an arm’s distance. I’ve never really looked to others as BFFs or for a popularity stat. I see so much drama around all that, I just can’t be bothered with it! lol

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    1. That sounds like a healthy attitude.

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  12. I have a great circle of friends and when we moved to a new city/state I was left with the need to meet new ones. While it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined (thanks to a local Mom group), it’s still a bit scary trying to find friends and make special connections when you are 30 years old.

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    1. It’s great that you found a Mom group. That should be one of the recommendations for finding friends – find your community.

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  13. These are great tips. We are in the Army so my son has to make new friends often. These are some great tips to help him step away if needed or ice breakers as well. Pinning this for the next move!!

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    1. My father-in-law was career military so my husband moved a lot. Having pen pals or using social media is a good way to stay connected.

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  14. I chocked up the whole way through these. Their hurt, Florida’s self-awareness and words of advice are so impactful and so pure in their presentation. I love how she makes note of your empathy and how you empower her. I also love the line about buying 10-15 minutes in the bathroom to reset!!! So sweet (and funny).

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    1. Florida’s self-awareness is incredible as is her big heart that reaches out to help others. Thanks for reading!

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  15. Oh I really love this. Thanks for sharing. That’s awesome that Florida saved all these letters from when she was younger. A buddy system like this would be wonderful for so many children with autism and special needs. I definitely liked her tips on how to distract teachers. haha I remember people doing the chat bomb.

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    1. I made her save her letters and drawings which turned out to be very fortunate because now some of them have grown into a book!

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    1. She really is wise, and funny, too. 🙂

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  16. I am really going to need to get a copy of her book. How inspiring!

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    1. I have to say her book is a must read! She is amazing!

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  17. What some great insight! Thanks for sharing this over at Merry Monday, hope you will join us again this week.
    -Shonee

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. We will pass on the compliment to Florida, she is a gift.

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    1. She is wise. I take her advice all the time.

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  18. Such a great Post from a wonderful perspective! I agree with her on it be better to have a few great stories with a few great friends!

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    1. I agree, too. Quality over quantity.

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  19. What a great post! Those first letters are so sweet and honest. My son always gets in trouble at school since whenever he has a writing assignment he disappears to the bathroom! ha!

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    1. Isn’t it amazing how many kids need to use the bathroom as soon as class starts? 🙂

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  20. Wow! Thank you for sharing this! The first 2 letters gripped me personally because one of my children was recently diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. It’s not autism, but there are a few similarities, one being the difficulties and challenges in handling social situations.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Reaching people on a personal basis was one of Florida’s goals when she started writing. Oh, and I added an update-Florida has found that BFF a few times since that letter was written.

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  21. What great insight at such a young age! As a teacher, I can attest to the truth in the last letter unfortunately! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is true. Even though I knew she would use the “chat bomb” with me, I still fell into the trap.

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    1. Thanks, I agree Florida gives great advice.

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  22. What a great perspective to have on friendship. It is a question that I think we have all asked ourselves when growing up, and the answer really rings true to me. Being popular would be hard work!

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)
    x

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    1. So true! There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.

      Reply

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