Autistic Masking


    What is Autistic Masking?

    Autistic masking occurs when being different, or neurodiverse, is not understood or welcomed, or when an Autistic person feels that being or acting neurotypical is preferred (because it makes others feel more comfortable).

    Autistic people may feel they have to hide their neurodiverse behaviours in order to be accepted so he/she will mask, or contain or control certain parts of themselves in order to fit in (especially if they've ever experienced teasing or bullying before).

    The most common reason for Autistic masking is usually for social reasons, including avoiding negative consequences (like teasing or bullying), as well as methods to form social connections with others.

    Whatever the motivation for masking, the person feels they must hide their differences or change the way they naturally act, because their environment doesn't tolerate, support or respect their neurodiversity, or because their peers and/or friends don't understand them when they're not masking.

    Source: @neuroclastic, 'Unmasking'

    Source: @yennpurkis5

    Examples of Autistic Masking

    • Learning social cues by watching YouTube and TikToks
    • Examining social interactions that occur around them
    • Observing the facial expressions and body language of others and practising them in private
    • Researching and studying social rules
    • Practising to appear interested or relaxed
    • Matching their tone of voice to match the person they're talking to

    The combination of masking, camouflaging, rehearsing answers to questions or conversations, studying people, mimicking and/or copying others can seriously affect the mental health and wellbeing of a person and might even have them question their own identity spending so much time pretending to be someone they're not.

    Masking for long periods of time can also lead to Autistic Burnout.