How to Be a Friend to Someone with Autism

By Belinda Hoyt

As Northwest Region Family Care Council Liaison, I often receive phone calls and letters from families in the region. Most are seeking resources or additional information about applying for services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Every once in a while, I receive something that makes me really smile.

Ansley Hall, a young man who will be turning 18 in May, decided he wanted to help educate others about how to become friends with someone with autism. He asked his parents for their assistance in creating a poster and putting together a Public Service Announcement for a local radio station (WHIF 91.3 FM) to promote Autism Awareness Month in April. Ansley’s mother received assistance from Carol Polesko, of UF CARD, in putting Ansley’s poster together. School psychologist Dr. Peter Faustino adapted author Ellen Sabine’s Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone with Autism. Peter’s adapted version is How to Be a Friend to Someone with Autism.


Ansley is a straight-A student, a Boy Scout, a senior lector at St. Monica’s, and member of the Sign Language Choir. He is studying to be an altar boy, and he has piloted a private Piper Warrior over Jacksonville and has gone down a Tennessee mountainside on a zipline. He admits he is a little awkward in social situations, but he credits his friends for helping him. Ansley knows what is needed to be a friend to someone with autism because, as he stated, “I also have autism.”

Attending a few of the Family CafĂ©’s Annual Youth Leadership Conferences has inspired Ansley to become a strong self-advocate, wanting to educate others about the importance of celebrating the month of April as Autism Awareness Month. He is proud of the things he has accomplished and is confident that he can master even more in the future.