Ok, I am glad to know that this is normal for people with SA, because I have experienced this since I was very young. At many times I even thought that I was mentally handicapped and that it was something that would never change. However, now that I have started to see some minor changes, I can accept that they are ANTS thoughts and feelings.
Large groups are often a problem, but my "mind blanks" do happen in smaller numbers, too. Also, it is more likely to happen around men than women. Strangely, I am very comfortable around girls, but around men sometimes I become much less comfortable. I think I am more worried about being judged by them for not acting "masculine" enough, even though I am just being friendly.
Similar to Dr. Richard's own experience with SA, I used to go into my room for a couple days without coming out after a social event, all the while beating myself up. Weirdly enough, I have always had a lot of friends and people who like being around me. I think this is because I am a very accepting person, but the hardest person to accept is myself.
Further, I have a couple triggers will sometimes come up in conversation. When this happens, I start to clam up more and have a difficult time conversing. It's like my reptile brain takes over.
Just to provide some background, I was homeschooled, so I grew up with one way of thinking until I was 15. Whenever I shared my opinions, I felt like they were always shut down. Whenever I said that I was experiencing stress as a child, my parents told me that kids don't experience stress. Basically, I never learned to trust or believe in my own thoughts and emotions. All that mattered was what the Bible said and some guy at the pulpit.
Finally, I had the choice to go to public school when I was 15. Obviously, I made that choice, then went to college, and then moved abroad to get away and experience more. Thus, I have experienced a lot of life changes at a fairly young age. Probably the hardest part for me has been learning how to let go of old, irrational beliefs to start believing in new ones. Since I started this program, I think I have changed in this regard tremendously.
However, as has been stated before, I really need to work on my self-confidence and believe in myself. I think this is going to be a long road to travel, but I will keep moving forward.