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MasterpieceofTurkeyCleverness
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24 Jun 2021, 4:23 pm

Hello! I'm new. I'm an undiagnosed adult female who strongly suspects she's somewhere on the spectrum.

My therapist suggested that I look into autism because there was new research that suggested that females don't present the same way as males and that many older females (40+) went undiagnosed. I already suspected that I would have been diagnosed as a kid as somewhere on the spectrum if that had been possible.

So I read a lot of books, and sure enough, I check a lot of boxes. Over the years, I have learned to 'overcome' many of my self-perceived 'deficiencies' (i.e., mask/camouflage). I think my therapist thought that if I had an explanation for some of my behaviors, I'd be less hard on myself (little did she know...).

I got on the forum because I'm bursting with questions and don't want to overwhelm the few people I know who may be on the spectrum themselves. I know I will need to go read other areas of the forums because I'm sure I'm not the first one to have some of these questions. But, hey, if you've read so far, and you feel like answering, here are some of the ones that feel like they're going to make my brain explode right this second:

1. Why does camouflaging/masking require more energy/induce anxiety in aspies but not NTs?
2. How can I be/why should I be more authentic if I don't really know who I am, especially when my masking has gotten me as far as it has?
3. How do you know where the line is between you making up a need for self-care (let's hypothetically say you don't feel like going to a work meeting that's not essential for you, but you NEVER feel like going to non-essential work meetings), and actually needing self-care?

I know those are some big questions, so thank you in advance for pointing me in the right direction and/or even reading this far.



Double Retired
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24 Jun 2021, 5:15 pm

Welcome to WP! I hope you find it helpful...

...but remember, we just wandered in, too, the same way you did. Some information you get here will be wonderful and insightful, and some will be kind of (a lot of) wrong.

But I hope you find the company good.

And, I hope you found this: Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test. Through Internet searches my bride and I had both reached the conclusion that I was very likely a High Functioning Autistic but it was that test that bolstered that opinion enough that I sought a professional adult Autism assessment.

P.S. I don't know where you are but you might sometimes find it useful when on WP to know whether your country uses DSM-5, or not. Outside the DSM-5 the word "Autism" is likely to be interpreted as referring to "classic" Autism and not including Asperger's Syndrome; in DSM-5 classic Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and a few other things got lumped together as Autism Spectrum Disorder. I got into some confusing discussions on WP before I figured out that different folk here think something different than I do when they see the word "Autism". All good folk though! (I'm in the U.S., which uses DSM-5. I meet the criteria that used to be called Asperger's Syndrome but because I live in the DSM-5 world I am Autistic.)

P.P.S. But, really, Welcome!


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G.2.0
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24 Jun 2021, 5:19 pm

oki so here's my take :D

1. Why does camouflaging/masking require more energy/induce anxiety in aspies but not NTs?

because you're going against your nature/disposition. Maybe you've noticed that interacting with other aspies (whom you get along ofc) might be more chill than interacting with other people (with whom you might also get along)? If your brain differs too much from the person you're interacting with you will experience more stress

2. How can I be/why should I be more authentic if I don't really know who I am, especially when my masking has gotten me as far as it has?

I struggled a lot with this. The way I started to think of it is you have to mask when you need to pass as NT as possible (e.g. work, interacting with random ppl etc). I also started cutting most people I was trying too hard to fit in with from my life. I'd rather have less but good friends / people in my life. I don't care about being liked or popular and that frees me. I will mask when I need to look after my own interests (e.g. interviews, work etc). As this impacts my emotional health I actively strive to diminish my interactions with people and know who my friends truly are. That's important. Don't waste your energy and protect your soul.

3. How do you know where the line is between you making up a need for self-care (let's hypothetically say you don't feel like going to a work meeting that's not essential for you, but you NEVER feel like going to non-essential work meetings), and actually needing self-care?

Ok, this is hard but learning to say no is very important as is also anticipating something or a situation that might lead to a bad outcome. This means learning from past experiences and knowing your limits. I've made all the mistakes in the book and still do tbh but I'm getting better. So an example is, going on holiday with friends who invited me. Sounds great? Except I have so many sensitivities and stuff and in the past I got myself in some really bad situations by accepting invites thinking it would be fun and ended up almost risking my life. So now I try to evaluate who I'm going with and how much they know me. If they know of my autism even better. Put yourself first and don't be afraid to say no.


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Mountain Goat
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24 Jun 2021, 5:29 pm

Welcome. I am a male who may have slipped the net as I am waiting to be assessed. Masking... How do I explain...
Those who mask do take more mental energy then those who don't because they are constantly doing two or more things at the same time in their mind, therefore at the end of a typical day in work or when one was in school or collage etc, one would just want to get home and spen the rest of the day/evening relaxing.
Someone who does not mask is far more likely to get back home and to them their day starts. Their time in school, college or work was just a neccessary time to get done before they can start their day...
To the one who masks, their time in school, collage or work was their day and they need then to have more of a relaxed afternoon and evening to recover from it.
One may not realize how much of this one may have done because if one has been masking all ones life and not known that this was unusual, one would not be aware that ones life was different except one may naturally be more withdrawn and less likely to be spending time in the evenings at various events if that makes sense?

This is what is meant by it taking up more energy.



MasterpieceofTurkeyCleverness
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24 Jun 2021, 6:23 pm

@Double Retired--Thank you! And good point that we all just wandered in here.

I get a 36/50 on the test you mentioned, and I'm in the US and familiar with the change from DSM IV to DSM V. I suspect I'm one of those patients who would be formerly diagnosed as Asperger's...

Thank you for the welcome!

@G 2.0--Thank you. I very definitely struggle with saying 'no.' Assertiveness is not my strong point. Which I guess leads to another question, and I'm betting it's largely unanswerable and/or there are widely differing opinions on it: Say I take assertiveness training. Does that count as masking, too? One of the books I read seemed to imply that people with ASD will always have the same amount of anxiety, regardless if they learn skills to 'help them' with certain things or not. That...sounds awful to me, as my anxiety is high despite being medicated for it.

@Mountain Goat--It does make sense, though my follow-up question would be what is the other thing that someone with ASD is doing besides masking? I completely hear you as to how exhausted you are at the end of the day; formerly, I thought that was just because I was introverted.



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24 Jun 2021, 7:08 pm

Welcome to Wrong Planet, I sincerely hope during your tenure here, not only will you find all the answers to many of your inquiries; but, also be able to facilitate informative discussions covering a vast variety of topics all in a comfortable environment.

Signed,
longshot


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G.2.0
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25 Jun 2021, 6:56 am

MasterpieceofTurkeyCleverness wrote:
@G 2.0--Thank you. I very definitely struggle with saying 'no.' Assertiveness is not my strong point. Which I guess leads to another question, and I'm betting it's largely unanswerable and/or there are widely differing opinions on it: Say I take assertiveness training. Does that count as masking, too? One of the books I read seemed to imply that people with ASD will always have the same amount of anxiety, regardless if they learn skills to 'help them' with certain things or not. That...sounds awful to me, as my anxiety is high despite being medicated for it.


I see your point >< mmmh so I don't think becoming more self confident and assertive means masking because you are honouring your needs and letting yourself be more fully and with more pride! :heart:


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Fnord
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25 Jun 2021, 8:39 am

1. Why does camouflaging/masking require more energy/induce anxiety in aspies but not NTs?
Because they are not masking as much as they are adapting to every social situation.

2. How can I be/why should I be more authentic if I don't really know who I am, especially when my masking has gotten me as far as it has?
How: Look in the mirror.  What you see is who you are.  Accept it.  Embrace it.  You be you.
Why: If masking works, great!  I even took acting lessons to learn more effective masking methods.

3. How do you know where the line is between you making up a need for self-care (let's hypothetically say you don't feel like going to a work meeting that's not essential for you, but you NEVER feel like going to non-essential work meetings), and actually needing self-care?
Learn the difference between what you need to live, and what you merely want that would make living more comfortable.  Personally, I avoid marketing and sales meetings, and focus on engineering and production meetings instead (I am an engineer).


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Double Retired
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25 Jun 2021, 4:13 pm

Isn't there a difference between "Masking" and "Coping skills"?

I understood Masking to be when you hide that your Autism makes you different. When you try to look and act Neurotypical so the NTs will think you are one of them. That would be things like forcing yourself to make lots of eye contact, etc.

And Coping skills are what you do to compensate for your Autism--not to hide it, just to get around it. For instance, I often carry a 3"x5" notepad with me when I leave the house so I can write myself reminder notes because my memory is horrible, and I have tried to develop a dry sense of humor because I find humor lubricates social awkwardness.

Masking: Hide your Autism. Coping: Make your Autism not matter as much.


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When diagnosed I bought champagne!
I finally knew why people were strange.