Austistic Masking is when a person on the autism spectrum mimics and uses social scripts learnt from others, in order to fit in and to go unnoticed in the neurotypical world. Both males and females on the autism spectrum mask, especially when the individual is more aware of their social differences to the neurotypical world. Studies show that people on the autism spectrum begin observing and masking from as young as six months old. Masking often becomes a automatic and a natural way of functioning, with the person on the spectrum not knowing that they are doing it.
What does it look like?
• Imitating peers by copying the way they dress, talk or play.
• They can use naturalised scripting methods and integrate them into their everyday discussions.
• They can hold back and observe situation and context, then try to copy iy either through imitative play or in direct social situations.
• They don’t want to be noticed, so they hide and blend in.
They become the “good child”, the one who sits quietly and doesn’t contribute much to the conversation. They can be considered shy or reclusive.
• Take on the persona of other people. Screen / book characters.
• Can persist into Adulthood.
• Can become like a chameleon and blend into many situations.
Why is this so bad?
Masking is a supression of the authentic Autustic state. This can be dismissed by professionals, other times people are misdiagnosed with mental health difficulties. It’s exhausting, which can lead to small amounts of burnout and lead to long term intense burnout, with self harm, suicidal ideation and attempted suicide.
Adulthood can lead to a sense of losing ones self, feeling more socially isolated, like no one knows their authentic autistic self. This leads to further masking and further disconnection from themselves.
Suppression can lead to loneliness, self medication, self harm, heightened anxiety, depression, confusion, anger and mental exhaustion.