I have flow charts for all of the things.
I write flow charts before I do experiments at work to plan out how I’ll do them.
As a teenager, I wrote out and memorized flow charts for small talk and routine interactions, so I’d quit accidentally ticking people off. I still use them more days than not.
I have a flow chart for choosing an outfit. And for some household chores that often give me trouble because they seem overwhelming at first.
These flow charts have gotten more sophisticated with time and experience, as I’ve tweaked and optimized them for better effect. I had a lot of experience at that as a kid, because I was under so much pressure to “fit in” and “be normal” so that I allegedly wouldn’t be bullied. I worked so hard on them, seeking the magic normal enough threshold that would get the teachers to protect me. I never reached it. I was, however, able to get my flow charts refined so they work quite well when I need them.
Unlike when I was a teen, as an adult I can choose whether or not I want to use them. I use them when I feel I need them, and ignore them otherwise. I no longer feel like I have to spend 90% of my available mental energy on keeping up the normal facade so I can “fit in”. I’ve found my people, people don’t care if I rock side to side and flutter my fingers at shoulder height when I’m thinking, or if I flap my hands in front of my face as I laugh.
I have mixed feelings about my flow charts – I like that I have a tool I can fall back on when original conversation isn’t something I can do. On the other hand, I dislike that I felt the need to create them in the first place. If people were taught acceptance, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt such severe pressure as a kid.
But the past can’t be changed. It happened. A beneficial to adult-me side effect is that I can usually spit out something mostly coherent if I make the mistake of meeting eyes with the coffee shop server when xe asks my order.