Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social communication, behavior, and sensory processing. One aspect of autism that is becoming increasingly recognized is the phenomenon of 'masking'. Masking refers to the process of consciously or unconsciously hiding autistic traits or characteristics in order to fit into social situations or appear 'normal'. This blog post explosures what autism masking is, why it happens, and the potential consequences.
What is Autism masking?
Autism masking is the process of hiding or suppressing autistic traits or characteristics in order to appear more socially acceptable or 'normal'. This can include things like suppressing stimming behaviors (such as rocking or flapping), mimicking facial expressions and body language, and trying to blend in with social norms. Masking can be a conscious decision, or it can be an unconscious coping mechanism developed over time.
Why does Autism masking happen?
Autistic individuals may mask their traits for a variety of reasons. One reason is to fit in socially and avoid negative attention or bullying. Many autistic individuals have experienced rejection or ridicule for their differences and may feel pressure to mask in order to avoid further social isolation. Additionally, many autistic individuals may not be diagnosed until later in life, and may have learned to mask their traits as a coping mechanism.
The consequences of Autism masking:
While masking can help autistic individuals fit into social situations more easily, it can also have negative consequences. Masking requires a lot of energy and can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can also lead to feelings of imposter syndrome, where the individual feels like they are 'faking' their way through social situations. Additionally, masking can lead to a lack of self-awareness and self-acceptance, as the individual may have suppressed or denied their true selves for so long.
What can be done to support autistic individuals who mask?
It is important for individuals on the autism spectrum to have access to support and resources that can help them understand and manage their autistic traits. This can include therapy, support groups, and self-help resources. Additionally, it is important for society as a whole to become more accepting and understanding of neurodiversity. By creating more inclusive environments and reducing stigma around autism, autistic individuals may feel less pressure to mask their traits and more comfortable expressing their true selves.