If you had to hide who you were most of the time, how do you think that would affect you?
Photo credit : volent (Unsplash)
Autistic people often feel they need to hide or “mask” who they are. They may need to perform social behaviours which are not natural, and they might feel the need to hide behaviours and parts of themselves to get by in society.
This is commonly called masking and it is a social survival strategy. It can include some of the following behaviours:
* preparing conversations in advance
* forcing themselves to make eye contact
* imitating facial expressions
Masking is generally employed to make life easier in some way, perhaps to avoid bullying or to forge friendships. This is because in many many areas of life, there is very little awareness or support for neurodiverse behaviours. It is believed that autistic girls and women are more likely to mask than autistic boys and men, but for all who mask regularly it is an exhausting, draining process. This is why children who seem to cope fairly well in school may have extreme blow ups when they get home, as the effort of the day takes its toll.