Welcome back to the Audacious Aspie! This week, we continue to look at Healthwatch Bristol and their article on what, is Autistic/Asperger masking. Now that the article has given it’s explanation of Autistic/Asperger’s masking to us, we shall move on to the next part of the conversation: “What does it mean for Autistic people?” (What is autistic masking? Second Section). The answer might surprise you (unless it was written by Sherlock or Captain Obvious, in which case it would not).
So what does masking mean for Autistic/Asperger people? Will, that would depend on the situation. Sometimes it's automatic, we meet someone and, in the blink of an eye, automatically try to mask our Autism/Aspergers, like meeting someone in the office, purchasing groceries, or giving someone directions. Other times we put a lot more effort into it, consciously trying to mask our Autism/Aspergers, like during an interview for a job, talking to the police or talking to your boss.
For the quick social interactions, like when buying groceries or giving directions, the masking is instant and painless (for some), especially when done many times over. But for the prolonged and/or possibly frightening social interactions like talking to the police or in an interview, the masking, while starting out instant (for some), eventually becomes forced and physically draining. Ofcourse, what social interactions do and do not require prolonged masking varies from person to person, with some being pretty at ease when talking to police officer, while others find talking to the cashier at the mall a struggle of Herculean proportions.
As in, Ancient Greek Demigod proportions. You have to be able to: smite everyone and anyone just because they looked at you wrong, into really, really weird romances, and just be an all around missed up kind of deity.
What are examples of masking behaviours? The article itself lists some: maintaining eye contact (which, I was told years ago and with great success, can be negated by looking at the person's forehead), trying to stay still, copying others behaviours and other signs of masking behaviour as will (for the full list, visit the website itself). Doing these things, all at the same time, can cause us to feel socially drained and/or burnt out (something that has been repeated in the article over and over again. Think it’s trying to say something?)
So stressed out, that you’ll get a sudden urge to eat your pencils. All 10 of them (yes, I actually counted how many pencils are in the picture. So what?)
Will, that does it for this week's post. Next week, we will continue to look at Autism/Asperger masking, as it is to interesting a topic, I believe to drop after one post. And perhaps, we will learn that masking has negative effects other than social burnout? As always, we’ll see just how far down the rabbit hole goes. But until next, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie