Blog 3: Masking from the Autistics Perspective: The Positives and Negatives

Hello all, welcome to blog 3. This time I will talk about what autism masking is. At the bottom of the blog will be an example I did about what masking looks like and the consequence of masking. (0:42-3:42)
Autism masking, also known as camouflaging, is a term used to describe the act of hiding or suppressing autistic traits in social settings like work, school, and events. Autistic might engage in masking as a way to fit in with society. In this blog, I will talk about the positives, but also the negatives and how it can be a negative thing. I mask a lot when I am out and about and can be draining most of the time. At the bottom of this blog I will embed a 3 minute clip from one of my videos showing what masking is and the effects it can have on us.

First, more about masking. Masking involves knowing or not imitating neurotypical behavior, keeping stims hidden, scripting conversation, and hiding sensory issues such as light sensitivity, and sound sensitivity. Masking can be used as a coping mechanism to navigate social gatherings, maintain friendships, and avoid bullying. Masking is mainly observed in autistics. It is believed that cultural and societal expectations of socializing contributes to being pressured to mask.

Next, the benefits of masking. While masking can be draining and have negative impacts (discussing next), there are positives to it. I will bring up 6 positives that I have noticed after years of masking.

Improved interaction: Masking can help autistics navigate social situations by imitating social cues, gestures, speech patterns, and body language. This strengthens our ability to interact and talk to others.
Increased acceptance and inclusivity: By masking our traits, it can help find it easier to be accepted in social groups, workplaces, and other settings like sports events. It could also decrease the likelihood of being stigmatized or excluded due to our behaviors.
Effective communication: Masking involves adapting communication to fit the norms of neurotypicals which leads to clearer more improved and effective communication. This could help autistics express their thoughts and needs more effectively and with confidence.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Masking provides in a sense safety and comfort especially in social situations. By blending in they can potentially experience reduced anxiety and stress associated with judgment and/or rejection.
Professional success: Masking may support autistics in the workplace, enabling to maintain appropriate social interactions and navigate workplace dynamics effectively. This can lead to positive impact their career progression and opportunities for success.
Self-Advocacy and empowerment: Through masking, autistics develop adaptive strategies that allow them to navigate certain aspects of society more smoothly. This can increase self-confidence and sense of agency, leading to more prominent self-advocacy and empowerment.

Finally and most important aspect of knowing what masking is and what happens, is the negative consequences. After experiencing it first hand, I feel it is important to shed light on what happens after masking and when we do mask.
Exhaustion and Mental Health Challenges: Masking requires a consistent effort and energy to imitate neurotypical behaviors, which can be mentally and emotionally draining. Autistics may experience stress, anxiety, and even burnout from consistently trying to fit in and suppress their autistic traits.
2Reduced Self-Acceptance and Authenticity: Constant masking our true selves can lead to a lack of self-acceptance and go into a sense of hiding or denying our identity. This could lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and disconnect from our authentic self.
Difficulty Developing Genuine Relationships: Masking can make it difficult to form genuine connections and relationships with others. By hiding true autistic traits, autistics may struggle to find acceptance and understanding from others which may lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness.
Increased Stress and Pressure: The need for constant masking autistic traits in different social situations can create a strong amount of stress and pressure. The fear of being “found out” or making mistakes can intensify anxiety levels and negatively impact overall well-being.
Impaired Self-Advocacy: Masking can make it difficult for autistics to advocate for their needs and accommodations. By concealing the challenges, we might not receive the appropriate support or understanding we require, potentially leading to increased frustration and difficulties in multiple settings.
Delayed Diagnosis and Intervention: Masking can result in a delayed or missed autism diagnosis. Those who can effectively mask autistic traits may not exhibit obvious signs, making it challenging for professionals to recognize and diagnose. The delay can also hinder appropriate support for those who can benefit from it. It is important to recognize and acknowledge the possible negative impact masking has. If you can find a balance between fitting in and embrace our authentic self, then it will be crucial for the well-being and overall happiness of autistics.
Masking is like Jekyll and Hyde. It has a positive and negative aspect. While masking makes it easier to “deal” with us, the Hyde shows up when no one looks and when we feel safe to unmask. We want to be accepted by others as our true selves and not have to put on a mask to look normal.

4 Comments
  1. Kristen March 16, 2024 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Very interesting video -thank you so much. I learned alot.

    • Martin Slyngstad March 18, 2024 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      Thank you, feel free to share this if you would like. Have a great day.

  2. Siva March 19, 2024 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Your exploration of masking from the autistic perspective is deeply insightful. Highlighting both the positives and negatives sheds light on the complexity of this experience. It’s crucial to recognize the toll masking can take on mental health and authenticity while acknowledging its role in navigating social situations. Thank you for sharing your perspective.
    #assisted living for disability #in home aba therapy #caregiver for autism #residential accessibility #autism residential care #residential for autistic adults

    • Martin Slyngstad March 20, 2024 at 3:28 am - Reply

      Thank you so much for your response. It was not an easy video for me to make for sure, but was definitely needed.

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