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androbot01
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21 Apr 2016, 8:17 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
Making social mistakes and not having people hate you for them probably depends on lots of factors, like how you come off generally, which then depends on your personality and stuff you talk about.


Not being hated depends on factors including one's personality and words. However this does not preclude that making social mistakes can also bring one hatred. I'm using the term hatred to encompass ostracism and disdain. I appreciate that you feel it's beneath you to succumb to the lure of acceptance. Perhaps you were diagnosed young and have received a lot of support. I wasn't. I was on my own. So I do automatically mask. And I don't appreciate your condescending attitude.



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21 Apr 2016, 8:47 pm

androbot01 wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
Making social mistakes and not having people hate you for them probably depends on lots of factors, like how you come off generally, which then depends on your personality and stuff you talk about.


Not being hated depends on factors including one's personality and words. However this does not preclude that making social mistakes can also bring one hatred. I'm using the term hatred to encompass ostracism and disdain. I appreciate that you feel it's beneath you to succumb to the lure of acceptance. Perhaps you were diagnosed young and have received a lot of support. I wasn't. I was on my own. So I do automatically mask. And I don't appreciate your condescending attitude.


I wasn't diagnosed early either.
I didn't receive a lot of support.
Socially, I made my own way like anyone else who did not get social skills training in childhood.
I don't know why you think my attitude is condescending.
I am describing how things are for me, and how I think masking can bring negative results, but I did not say that people who mask are inferior.


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btbnnyr
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21 Apr 2016, 8:49 pm

Yigeren wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
I don't think I have that many social skills compared to other autistic people.
I don't emphasize deficits much, because I find it doesn't help.
I don't emphasize social mistakes in my mind, to blow them up into major anxiety, so I can generally relax around people and be myself.
I find that none of my social skills involve much EF application, as I am never analyzing social things in my mind, I am just being myself.

Another thing about masking is that people can probably tell who is pretending to be what they're not, they may implicitly know even if they don't think about it explicitly.
Implicit knowledge may cause them to develop a dislike towards people who pretend a lot.
Or at least they may feel uncomfortable around these people, enough to want to avoid them.
So I think masking or pretending may be detrimental to social interactions, relationships, etc.
It may prevent learning real social skills, since so much effort is going into pretending instead of learning.
Some NTs have told me that they don't like people who they can't relax around, like people who are very anxious give off anxious vibes and make the other people uncomfortable, they feel some tension from the anxious people.


I actually tend to get much better reactions when I'm not myself. If I allow myself to relax, I usually say things that I shouldn't say. I'm wondering if part of my problem is that I'm also hyperactive and impulsive at times.

There was a long period of time (several years) when I felt little to no anxiety when interacting with people. I assumed that I was socializing normally, but I was still coming off as odd, and often saying the wrong thing. So I was mostly acting like myself, and while some people liked that I was friendly, many other people either didn't like me or didn't know what to think of me and my behavior.

I agree that masking is a bad idea. I felt happier when I was more myself. However, I'm going to have to learn and practice social skills or else I'm going to continue to have negative experiences that make me not want to socialize.

I wish I could learn how to properly socialize through observation and interaction, but some things I just don't get. I'm guessing that everything that I was going to learn in that manner I probably learned a long time ago. There are just some things that I needed to be told directly, because I was never going to get it on my own for whatever reason. So my next step is going to be to try to learn these things somehow. And then I'll just have to forget about appearing weird, because that's unlikely to change no matter what.


My guess is no matter how much you mask, you come off weird, as much as social communication is based on implicit, subtle messages perceived by sensory systems and integrated in neural circuits without conscious awareness.
So I would go with masking less and accepting that some people won't like you, but there may be other people who accept you and your particular personality and weirdness.


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androbot01
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21 Apr 2016, 9:30 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
Yigeren wrote:
I actually tend to get much better reactions when I'm not myself. ...
My guess is no matter how much you mask, you come off weird, ...

Are you serious?



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21 Apr 2016, 10:21 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
My guess is no matter how much you mask, you come off weird, as much as social communication is based on implicit, subtle messages perceived by sensory systems and integrated in neural circuits without conscious awareness.
So I would go with masking less and accepting that some people won't like you, but there may be other people who accept you and your particular personality and weirdness.


Based on what others have told me, I can mask successfully for short periods of time. The less I say, the better. I do not make normal eye contact, but I don't completely lack social instinct. I understand and can use facial expressions (but don't use them as much as normal people), tone of voice, sarcasm (but not always), have a good sense of humor, understand idioms, etc. So I think I'm actually better off than many people.

But yes, you are probably right. I am likely going to seem weird or eccentric most of the time. It's probably not worth the trouble to try to hide it, unless I'm at a job interview or something. It's still probably a good idea to learn more social skills, so that even if I'm weird, I'm not going to seem inappropriate or offend people unintentionally. I know that I make obvious mistakes which I can learn not to make. I don't really mind being seen as eccentric, but I'd rather be the good kind of eccentric.



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21 Apr 2016, 10:35 pm

Masking autism is pretending you're not and trying to "pass" as an NT. Doing so nearly always ends in failure and causes depression, fatigue, anxiety, and an increased risk of suicide. It's only when Autistic people accept who they are and stand up to ignorant people trying to make them something they're not that these negative feelings go away.



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23 Apr 2016, 9:59 am

Personally, I'd say the difference between masking and applying learned social skills is the effectiveness of the behaviour for you.

Applying a learned social skill is something you can do easily and you gain more than you suffer from doing it. (Eg, you ask 'How are you?' and get more positive interactions as a result, but asking that doesn't bring you any real negative consequences, or you learn how to advocate for your disability needs in a way that gets them met and you find it difficult but it has a big payoff.)

Masking is doing something to seem normal when that behaviour is not very effective for you. Either it doesn't have any real benefit aside from fitting in, or it carries a cost that outweighs the benefit. (Eg, trying to pick up one night stands when you're asexual because you don't want people to question your sexual orientation, or making eye contact to seem polite when it impairs your ability to process what they're saying.)

One is applying a useful skill to benefit your own well-being, the other is doing something maladaptive to make yourself seem more normal.



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23 Apr 2016, 10:14 am

^^^ Added to this, If you are masking, and you don't know what is slipping through, you do not understand why or how people react to you a certain way.

A mask is not the same as a set of rules. It is just a malformed attempt to blend in without external feedback. And, it may not be sending consistent message, or even contrary messages.

I am learning that I am sending conflicting messages as my verbal and non-verbal cues do not match sometimes.

That is why I want outside feedback and training. I can adapt if I know the rules or know my limitations. They may never be able to train me to fully understand how to do it right, but, they can train me to adapt through realization.


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SweetOnSylvia
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09 Mar 2020, 11:55 pm

I am not sure if I mask as much anymore, but when I did, it was often trying to restrict how long I would talk about special interests, trying to make sure that I did not randomly start bouncing-- I have an essay that I wrote for class when I was fifteen about first impressions where half a paragraph is about trying to consciously suppress the urge to hop and about trying not to talk about unicorns and not smiling too big as either I will not smile at all or I will smile very big and stare at people I like very much.

Now, mostly, it is just making sure that I do not start having a meltdown in public and trying to find a way to appropriately leave the situation or suppressing it and not drawing attention to myself. I am not very good at covering up stims as I am often not aware of what my body is doing-- such as ripping up paper or pulling skin off of my fingers-- until I look down, but I can usually hold in the big stims like rocking and hopping and flapping and just migrate the need to stim to these small areas. I am also very good at randomly plastering on a clownish customer service face as I worked in retail-- causing two hour meltdowns everyday when I got home-- and even though I never fully moved to cash register as I kept messing up and being too slow and not interacting with customers correct, occasionally people would come up to me-- but I can only say a few things and am not very good at keeping up the facade-- sometimes, I worry that I am not actually autistic when I do this and I try to get out of the situation as quickly as possible because before, when I was undiagnosed (I was diagnosed at 21) it was social survival, now it is social survival and a recipe to send me doubting my autism.

Other masking things:
Ask the other person how they are doing, especially if you have been rambling about yourself for too long. Be aware of how long you have been rambling. Recognize that it is difficult to figure out how long you have been rambling. If they are aware you are autistic and you have been talking to long about yourself, say "Your turn"; if they do not know, say you are a very passionate person and believe that human beings should have an openness with each other. What are you passionate about? Try to look them in the eyes, but not too long, as too long means that you are creepy or men might think you are flirting. Doubt your autism hours later remembering how you were able to look someone in the eye. Try not to bounce, hop, or flap when talking about axolotls. Do not randomly try to introduce axolotls into the conversation. Do not talk about the time you spent in the mental hospital. Smile, keep smiling, or just say that you have a resting b***h face, fighting the expectation that women are supposed to always be smiling as they are sexualized by men. Yes, be political. This is something normal to talk about. Oh, but they do not want to talk about politics. You keep talking about it. Now a fight is happening. Either fight or flee. You freeze and fall quiet and are silent. Then you realize you have been quiet for too long. Apologize for your behavior. Always apologize. You are the one who is always wrong.

Masking is very shaming, but it is necessary for autistic people to survive in the world and to not be completely alone... It is very sad sometimes thinking about it...


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10 Mar 2020, 11:21 am

Basically, when people on the spectrum "mask", they become actors, and the role is to act as much like a "normal" person as possible. This includes suppressing stimming, and other behaviors that bother the norms. Because masking is very draining mentally, emotionally, and physically, we can't do it permanently, and need a lot of downtime to recharge ourselves after a session with norms.

I am now 6 decades along, and have gotten a lot better at masking over all this time, but now have other health issues that are very draining even without my having to deal with being an Aspy, so I feel even more drained after being with other people during family visits and on errand runs. It now takes me several days to recuperate from these sessions. Fortunately, I live alone, and because of my health issues, I am mostly homebound now, so I don't have to spend much time with other people anymore.


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10 Mar 2020, 2:16 pm

I always like to think I've given up masking, but I'd be lying if I said I don't still do it at times. When I'm home, I definitely don't bother to mask because I don't see the need and it's a waste of energy personally for me. However, I've noticed I still have maybe like a "half-mask" where I'm very quiet and probably appear to be awkward but follow my "scripts" (like in the checkout line at a store or ordering food at a restaurant and communicating with my school instructors online). I'm lucky my job is working for my dad's repair business and keeping records and that kind of thing and pretty much always working solo so I can be myself. With family, I've given up the mask but I think I probably still have at least a partial mask when with my friends.


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10 Mar 2020, 9:55 pm

Here's another thread which links to a study with a full list of masking techniques:
Potentially Useful Research About Masking


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10 Mar 2020, 10:20 pm

Masking is when the real you doesn't dare to engage as your self. Its when you send a constructed pretend self to attend as your proxy at work/social events/encounters/appointments/anything that involves others whom you do not absolutely know and trust 100% to accept and understand the authentic you in its authentic self.

The stress and strain of maintaining this proxy drains huge amounts of energy from your body, mind, life and eventually exhausts your psychological and emotional inner resources. Masking and prolonged intense stress are IMO the two major precursors of "autistic burnout", a kind of utter exhaustion of soul and body.



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11 Mar 2020, 4:57 am

To me masking is a tool to get things no more and no less. It in of itself is not inherently evil.

The problems including burnout and mental illness come when
The person masking forgets or never understood it is a tool. They think of themselves as broken or cursed and use masking either to fool the rest of the world into thinking they are normal or use it in an attempt to fix themselves.

They overdo it

Since autistics are a small minority we feel the need and all too often actually need to mask to a much greater degree and much more often than most neurotypical people. This makes it very easy to fall into the mentality I discussed above.


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