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Edenthiel
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15 Apr 2016, 4:58 pm

Anyone else read through these responses regarding how we mask and how exhausting it is and think to themself,

"Ahhhh. This is my tribe..." :)


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mikeman7918
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15 Apr 2016, 5:29 pm

Edenthiel wrote:
Anyone else read through these responses regarding how we mask and how exhausting it is and think to themself,

"Ahhhh. This is my tribe..." :)

Yep. It's very nice to not be the weird one for once.


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Brittniejoy1983
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15 Apr 2016, 6:34 pm

Yes, Edenthial. That's why I'm so scared about what this evaluation will say.


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16 Apr 2016, 9:12 am

I was recently diagnosed with aspergers and this thread is a real eye-opener. No wonder I'm totally exhausted after work and/or being among other people for a long duration.



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16 Apr 2016, 9:44 am

As many other have said above, Masking refers to trying to "pretend to be normal" in order to fit in etc.

I got REALLY good at it, but like others i got exhausted and hit burn out. I got really ill, and the operation which fixed my illness (yay) completed destroyed my ability to mask and pretend.

For example, iv'e spent 8 months without speech. When i woke up from the aesthetic, it was gone and its yet to come back. Im having to rethink my entire life.

However, i am happier for it. I am lucky that those around me accept me, they are happy to see more of the autistic me (who's like a 5 year old sometimes!) and less of the stressed, anxious and very blunt person i use to be.

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zkydz
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16 Apr 2016, 10:17 am

Edenthiel wrote:
"Masking" = hiding. All those intentional, very conscious behaviors used to hide autism. Even once they become habit, they still require substantial effort and energy to maintain, and require downtime afterwards to compensate. Push too far past their limits and meltdowns still happen, although some of us learned *another* set of masking to hide that, too. It can be...damaging, as it usually directs the entire meltdown internally or creates a disconnect & sometimes those become part of who you (think you) are.

All that said, some level of masking, some basic skills in the craft are needed realistically b/c many NT people have been taught that to deviate from 'normal' is wrong or suspect (or dangerous, potentially harmful, etc). I just wish compensating downtime was included in all teaching of that basic masking skill set.
One of the most concise explanations I've read. It's what I've learned about me. It is performance art. And without that downtime to recharge, it can lead to what I have learned is termed 'Autistic Burnout.' That's where I am in all of this. But I still mask.

It's one of the reasons I am grateful for the full eval I got. They noticed things that the average person would just 'pick up' unconsciously, but they are trained to see and evaluate.

It's also damaging to relationships I have found because the mask can be attractive. But, it's not the real you. My experience is that it's enough of a difference to make things difficult. That disconnect that was mentioned is present even at this low level and does not require the meltdown. But, the meltdown makes it much worse when it happens.

This bring me to the only caveat or question I have about this is in regards to NTs being 'taught that to deviate from 'normal' is wrong or suspect'.

Some of that I agree with. The looking in the eyes is one of those.

But, there is also the intuitional things they can do that I know I can't. I found out my facial expressions and body language is off sometimes. If I am throwing out mixed signals on that very basic level, I think that is enough to create an unsettled situation for someone else.

If I'm happy or thinking and I look angry, I don't think that is a taught response from other people. I think a lot of it is involuntary.

Edenthiel wrote:
Anyone else read through these responses regarding how we mask and how exhausting it is and think to themself,

"Ahhhh. This is my tribe..." :)
Actually, yeah. Nobody else understood what I was trying to tell them for nearly 25 years.
93, tried to tell them about sensory processing issues and trouble understanding the human voice. Tested my hearing only and said it was within normal parameters and it was all in my head. Which is true, but in a way they did not understand.

98 to almost now, tried to tell them about not being able to connect with people, self isolation, sensory issues. One person was putting it together before I got transferred to a different 'catchment' area. But that was early on and there were other things that were getting in the way of seeing a lifelong pattern and struggles.

So, imagine my surprise back in November when I come here, make statements, get PMs, get understood immediately, and educated on things that bore out to be true, then yeah......

I have found my people.


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Lumi
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16 Apr 2016, 7:58 pm

I'm not able to hide anything. As a kid I had no idea of being autistic...but aware that students didn't like me.
Getting an ASD diagnosis at age 16 - is that considered late?


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Edenthiel
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16 Apr 2016, 8:06 pm

Lumi wrote:
I'm not able to hide anything. As a kid I had no idea of being autistic...but aware that students didn't like me.
Getting an ASD diagnosis at age 16 - is that considered late?

A diagnosis is something you get if you need it for an IEP, or if you want a professional opinion so you can find & sometimes get services, or if you need professional help finding out why you have trouble in the world...there are probably as many reasons as there are Autistics.

And it follows then that there is no "right" age. Some people here didn't get diagnosed until their 40's :roll: (ahem; me). Some not until their 60's. The best reason to do it as early as you can is so that you have more years of hopefully enjoying life more b/c you know how to identify and maybe work around or make better choices based on knowledge.


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btbnnyr
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17 Apr 2016, 12:08 pm

I still don't understand the masking thing, it is completely unintuitive to me.
I just act like myself, and some people would take that as very weird, and others would take that as not that weird, and others would take that as normal.
The repressing part of masking is even harder to understand than the expressing part.


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zkydz
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17 Apr 2016, 12:23 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I still don't understand the masking thing, it is completely unintuitive to me.
It is completely unintuitive , I believe, for most of us. That's why we burn out, exhaust so easily in certain situations and other things. It may not be something everybody can do.

But, it's basically a series of things that are learned to be faked. That's why it's so taxing on us. So, yes, it is completely unintuitive.

It also leads to a series of unintentional mistakes or misunderstandings between people when it slips or cracks open a bit. It can be the difference between night and day in how you come across, an inconsistency projected that you are not aware of.

And those that can mask very well, it makes the disability even that much more invisible to observers, and increases the disconnect when it fails.


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btbnnyr
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17 Apr 2016, 2:10 pm

What I mean is that the idea of faking things regularly to the point of some burnout is unintuitve.


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zkydz
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17 Apr 2016, 2:37 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
What I mean is that the idea of faking things regularly to the point of some burnout is unintuitve.
If you take the approach that it is intentional, you would be absolutely correct.

However, keep in mind, many of us 'fakers' did it unintentionally. We were trained, many times, quite harshly to 'be a certain way.' Think of it this way. Most of us above a certain age grew up in a time when the accepted punishment then would get you arrested today. So, when I say punished harshly, I am framing it under the idea that it was harsh even for the times I am referencing. Literally beat, embarrassed, pushed to do unnatural things because it made us look weird to others and embarrassed parents and other family. And, many times, done in public so the parents could show that they did not tolerate aberrant behaviour. It was very much a sink or swim life back then. And that was easy compared to the people before.

So, most of us do it because it is all we know until we discover ourselves in a place like this. Then we realize how deadly it has been to suppress all those natural tendencies, causing even larger problems and doses of shame because all those things that were conditioned into us actually caused harm by forcing the suppression.

So, I completely agree that it is counter-intuitive to do it. But it is literally all I knew to do. The balance would be to find proactive ways to deal with things without having to fully mask.

I believe everybody has to mask at some point. I believe it is easier for NTs to do it because they can hide behind white lies and those sorts of things without any consequence. Their ability to control body language and other aspects naturally helps a lot.

I just know it's been exceptionally damaging to me.


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Edna3362
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17 Apr 2016, 2:42 pm

The power of acting. :lol: It can manifest in many forms.
From suppression to fakery, all in the act of not being perceived as odd, weird, different...
If not being perceived as an idiot, insolent, or something whatever what makes people panic or aggressive or assuming regardless the carried intentions because of their mini culture shocks or mixed message instinct.

Why is this? There's just too many possible reasons which isn't for me to judge.



I choose not to. :lol: I choose not to mask unless I see it fit or when it's absolutely necessary.
I choose to learn things and be good at it, not learn to pretend how to look good at it.


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zkydz
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17 Apr 2016, 2:58 pm

Edna3362 wrote:
I choose not to. :lol: I choose not to mask unless I see it fit or when it's absolutely necessary.
I choose to learn things and be good at it, not learn to pretend how to look good at it.
That's where I am in all of this. Trying to figure that out. About 4 weeks ago I realized that I had been suppressing a lot of behaviours. This was soon after the wife left. I'd even been suppressing them in front of her. So, when I learned to let myself go at home, it began a series of soothing actions that began to melt my stress a bit.

So, I have to learn balance. What's attainable/realistic for me.

And, I have to get out of 55 years of 'training' that it's not good to look weird while doing good work. Even though I am a working artist and that means a good deal of weird is acceptable, I was always self conscious because of the upbringing.

Some of it was good though. Manners and that sort of thing. I would say that has helped me more than any other thing.

I also think it's hurt me more than any other thing because it draws a sharper contrast when I melt down, or get focused, furrowed and frowny and then they wonder where the charming guy went because this new as*hole is really angry. Even though I'm not. Or at least I don't think I am.


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btbnnyr
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17 Apr 2016, 3:28 pm

I learned some social skills throughout life, so if I learned social skills that I didn't have when younger, I would say that I am putting into practice learned social skills instead of faking anything if I apply the skills in a social situation.


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