Autism Masking-Go Be Your Wonderful, Amazing Self!
Autism and Masking Examples
We live in a world of masking these days, but when we talk about autism masking or social camouflaging, what does that even mean?
Autism masking in it’s simplest form is hiding. Imagine feeling that your behavior stands out in some way.
Perhaps you are quiet and have difficulty starting a conversation or you have some form of stimming behavior and people stare.
Whatever the difference, masking means the person covers up who they really are to try to fit in.
Autistic girls spend time blending into in this social behavior more than autistic boys.
Masking = Fitting In
No judgement here.
We’ve all used social imitation strategies to some extent.
We want to fit into a friend group so we pretend to think what they think and act in ways that are not really true to ourselves.
Well people with autism take this a step further to try to fit in a society that in many ways is not true to who they are.
This takes substantial cognitive effort (lots of energy) to constantly try to fit it to schools, groups of friends, and social situations.
These compensation techniques lead to social difficulties, low self-esteem and mental health problems.
What Is Autism Masking?
- Imitating facial expressions and gestures of different people and even tv show characters to try to blend in and make a good impression
- Practicing small talk conversations in different situations (creating social scripts to follow)
- Hiding special interests and your autistic traits, true self to avoid teasing and bullying
- Using eye contact although it’s uncomfortable and requires so much effort and social anxiety
Benefits of Masking
People continue with behaviors in their daily life that benefit them in some way.
Masking is no different and in fact, the main reasons for autistic masking is to avoid bullying and teasing in a social interaction .
Other reasons include:
- Avoiding the negative impact of low self esteem
- Wanting to feel accepted in social situations
- Imitating social skills of family members, socially and professionally
Consequences of Masking
Kids may start imitating neurotypical behaviors starting at a young age which are the signs of using autistic masking to fit in.
Kids with use autism making at school to fit in and feel accepted.
It’s good to be shaped by positive people and experiences that allow us to grow into a healthy adult, but when kids spend time hiding who they are just to fit in, this is trauma.
Kids experience trauma through a loss of identity, a decrease in physical health and increased mental health issues that are harmful and not growth producing.
Autistic masking burnout happens when a person has to spend energy pretending to be someone other than themselves.
Autism masking consequences include making kids hide aspects of their autism that they don’t want to hide.
We take the good and leave behind what isn’t working for us.
The process of growth is accepting your autistic traits, who you are, loving your differences and being open to changing what you want to change about yourself.
Autism masking symptoms can include fidgeting during a conversation, struggling to keep eye contact and practiced responses to questions.
Kids with autism spectrum disorder may need further support and early intervention.
Mental health services are available many places. Here is a Psychology Today link based on city, state or zip code.