Why thank you! We do our best! Very glad you appreciate it.
I think this sounds like a great starting point.
First of all, I want to direct you to Douglas Laman's columns here on the site, which I think might offer some good general advice around some of this. I think this interview with another Autistic writer (Douglas is on the spectrum as well) could be a great place to start: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/disa ... nulty_lcsw
. You can use the search function with his name to find his other pieces from there!
I wonder if your game plan is something that's actually helping you or if it might actually be tripping you up? For example, if I go to do an interactive discussion with a small group for work here, I can have an idea of what I want to cover, but if I have much more than that, or if I get even too attached to that, all of the spontenaeity and unpredictability of what the other people bring to the table -- both in terms of their feelings, their ideas and what they say AND how there merely being other people interplays with me and all my stuff -- sucks all of that plan I had out of my head. On the other hand, if I really just go in with a very loose idea of what I want to talk about, or better yet, if I can just show up as myself, with myself, and play it by ear as much as possible, even in the awkward moments, I find things can go a little more smoothly.
I think one thing to know when you're someone who feels socially awkward is that when relationships or interactions are new between people, the bonus is that often EVERYONE feels awkward, not just you. Some people are better at masking than others, and some people may simply fall into the social norms people expect more easily, period, but it's most common for everyone to *feel* awkward regardless, which I tend to find always helps me feel a little better when I feel socially nervous. Like, it's not just me, so I can breathe a little easier, you know?
Another thing I often find helpful in any situation where I'm feeling nervous or awkward is to just put it out there. I always feel like trying to hide it trips me up, whereas just owning it helps me relax, and it's also just really humanizing for everyone. So, it's always an option to say things like, "I have a hard time expressing myself sometimes," or "I feel awkward in new social situations, so if I seem quiet or slow to respond, it's not you, it's just me trying to find my footing."
How does that sound?
I'm at the end of my shift, but I'll be back around tomorrow, and I'm happy to pick this up again and we can talk more about worries around saying the wrong things or things that embarrass you if you like.