In this blog post I will be talking about the difficulties of autistic masking. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of autism masking then Allie has written an excellent blog explaining her perspective on it, which can be found here. Autistic masking is a very difficult challenge that people on the autistic spectrum challenge, and for a lot of people it is the biggest challenge. I feel that it is important for people to have an insight on why autistic masking is so difficult, which is why I have decided to write this blog post. I will give 4 reasons why autistic masking is so difficult. Note that not all people on the spectrum will find all of the below 4 points difficult, and autism affects everyone differently.
Autistic masking is a daily challenge people on the spectrum face
One thing that I really want to emphasise about autistic masking is that it is not something that people on the autistic spectrum face every now and then, instead it is a daily reality. Autistic masking happens because people on the autistic spectrum have some neurodiverse behaviours, which is not always accepted in a world that is designed for neurotypicals. Therefore, in order to fit in a neurotypical world, people on the spectrum often mask some of their personality traits. Trying to fit in in a neurotypical world is a daily challenge, and having to hide aspects of your personality just to fit in in such a frequent basis is challenging for anyone. The fact that it is a daily challenge for some people means that it can feel that there is no escape.
Not many people understand the challenges of autistic masking
Another thing that makes autistic masking particularly hard to deal with is that not many people genuinely understand and appreciate how difficult and nerve wracking this can be for someone on the spectrum. Firstly, autistic masking is a challenge that not many people know anything about, and in my opinion, you cannot have an appreciation for a challenge that you don’t know anything about in the first place. This means that people on the spectrum sometimes suffer in silence when it comes to the challenges, they face due to autistic masking, as they don’t feel that they would be understood. Suffering in silence makes the challenge harder to deal with rather than easier. Furthermore, the lack of knowledge about autistic making means that people can unfairly associate it with making excuses in life or being weird and dramatic, which acts as another barrier for people on the spectrum to open up about this challenge.
There are no easy and quick solutions to overcome autism masking
In the first 3 paragraphs above, I have made it clear that autistic masking is a challenge that people on the spectrum face. As Allie indicated in her blog here, the aim is essentially to unmask. However, unmasking is something that is difficult and takes a lot of time, especially as autistic masking is something that is a daily challenge and an everyday reality. In other words, there is no easy and quick solution. As mentioned in the first paragraph, autism masking happens because people on the spectrum with neurodiverse behaviours have to find a way to fit in a neurotypical worlds and society that doesn’t always accept their differences. This is not something that you can just snap out of or get over in an instant, which isn’t something everyone understands. The aim is to unmask, but even then it can be argued that it is impossible to fully 100% unmask.
Autism masking is mentally draining
Autism masking is not easy, and it is usually mentally draining. As mentioned in the first point, autism masking is a daily challenge which means that there is very little escape from it. The fact there is little escape can leads to things being overwhelming. Furthermore, as mentioned in the second point, autism masking is not something many people understand, which can lead to people on the spectrum suffering in silence. Put these two things together, and it is clear that autism masking is something can be extremely emotionally exhausting. The fact that it is so mentally draining can lead to a loss in confidence at times, as well as struggles with wellbeing.