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ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Cautiously Reaching Out

By Out-of-Sync Woman

I often feel awkward, uncomfortable, and unsure when I reach out to other people. Especially when I’m trying to do something nice for someone. I worry that other people will think I’m weird or inappropriate because of my actions. I wonder if part of the reason is that I don’t like drawing notice from other people. I really don’t like being the center of other people’s attention. Interacting with others means risking their judgment.

Getting back to the subject, doing something nice for someone is tricky for everyone if you really think about it. It involves paying attention to someone else’s needs, wants, and desires. Knowing my relationship with the other person and the boundaries in the relationship sometimes helps me understand some social norms regarding typical interactions. I ask myself, “Is this person a family member, friend, or acquaintance?” to assist me in deciding on an action.

Really important: timing can make a great deal of difference between too early, on time, and late.  Timing is hard to judge just right and I believe it’s difficult for lots of other people too.  It’s kind of like popping popcorn in the microwave. If you open the door too soon, you don’t have much popcorn and if you wait too long, you could have a burned popcorn mess.

I like to think I’m a giving, generous person who’s thoughtful in her actions. However, things don’t always go as planned for me. I’ve had plenty of interesting interactions that led to funny stories that I make a point of not taking too seriously and I try to give myself some leeway. I would encourage anyone who’s sometimes been discouraged when they try to reach out to remember that it takes planning, practice, and some mistakes to learn anything. Best of luck to all my readers with trying to reach out and make connections with others