I know I mentioned the weight of my mask before, but I think it’s time for us to consider the positives of being on the Spectrum.
But first, thanks to Blogging Astrid, whose post about masking is: https://bloggingastrid.com/2018/07/23/takethemaskoff-what-is-masking, perhaps she could explain what masking means to the Spectrumite community better than I could, simply put:
Masking…is pretending to be something you’re not. This can be done either consciously or uncnsciously. Many autistic adults have learned to mask so well it’s almost second nature. We’re also encouraged to mask on a daily basis when people judge us about being autistic. Then when we mask successfully, we’re told we don’t look autistic.
Masking may seem natural to NTs, or neurotypicals, but they don’t really understand what a challenge it is for us to be “on stage” every day. It can be challenging enough to mask, without having to guess social cues that can vary from time to time, which leads us to script our responses meticulously, as the blogger describes further:
For example, I’m often told that I don’t appear autistic. After all, when I hold a conversation, I appear pretty “normal”. I am told I can hold down a reciprocal conversation that doesn’t sound stereotyped or like I’m scripting. I ask people about their interests, for example. Now that it’s been extremely hot here for a few weeks already, I have even mastered some smalltalk about the weather.
This obviously (to me) does not mean I’m not autistic. Autism, despite what many people think, is not about social niceties. Autism is not the same as a lack of interest in others. Besides, I have 32 years of experience being told how selfish I am for not appearing to show an interest in others. So instead of showing a genuine interest in the people and topics I’m genuinely interested in, I learned to appear to be interested in whatever and whoever I am supposed to be interested in. In other words, I learned to mask my autistic curiosity.
Speaking for myself, I like to be around people who understand my autism for what it is, a different way of thinking; those people whom see me as I am, autism and all. Disclosing to friends and co-workers is first and foremost to me, mostly because I want people to understand my quirks, my difficulties and my strengths, if for no other reason, to help me be myself, really myself and allow me to take my mask off,
To do so, I’ve had to look deep inside myself and find my positive traits (as do we all) and it’s easy to discount whom we are in the face of the neurotypical society we see, but if nothing else, know that you are strong, you are smart and you are enough. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and dare to take your mask off and let your true self…..