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nebucasneezer
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14 Jun 2022, 8:50 pm

I mask by trying to make eye contact, limiting how much I talk about my special interests, trying to make it look like I'm interested, engaging in small talk, and trying not to stim or at least doing "socially acceptable" or discreet stims. Also I'm not sure if this is masking or not but I'll mimic other people's excitement or tones or gestures. I mask almost all the time in public and also to some degree at home with my family (like I'll talk their ears off about my special interests and I won't gesture but I will attempt to make eye contact and put tone in my voice).



Elgee
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15 Jun 2022, 10:50 pm

I've hardly ever masked. I was always one of the "weird" or "strange" kids in school. At workplaces I was known as different or odd. I'd try to fit in but after a few weeks, just couldn't sustain it.

My masking throughout life has only been minimal, like smiling or nodding more than I felt comfortable doing, doing it because I felt I had to. Pretending I was interestsed in someone's story. I never fake laughed; just fake smiled, nodding, trying not to appear "too serious." I suppress stimming, but that's no big deal; I do socially acceptable stims (foot flapping, toe curling, light leg movements, teeth clicking (invisible), finger movements, muttering under my breath.

I never had a burnout. I never masked enough to have a burnout, which is the result of longterm, full-on masking.

I can pass as non-autistic to anyone who's not familiar enough with autism and only thinks of it in terms of stereotypical or overtly weird behavior. However, be around me long enough and I come off as quirky, odd, a bit weird, different, blunt, too serious, too analytical, too matter-of-fact, not smiling enough, not enough facial expression, too gruff, too quiet, too straightforward, not good at small-talk, eye contact at times too intense or a fixed stare.

To someone very familiar with autism, they'll pick up on it quickly, depending ont he circumstance and context. Or, they may not notice--again, depending on context.

What I'd like to know is how many other autistic women hardly ever masked full-on? I would never know how to do this, and the idea of mimicking other kids when I was growing up was unthinkable. And copying adult women? SICK, I'd never want to act like them.



orbweaver
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15 Jun 2022, 10:55 pm

Elgee wrote:
I've hardly ever masked. I was always one of the "weird" or "strange" kids in school. At workplaces I was known as different or odd. I'd try to fit in but after a few weeks, just couldn't sustain it.

My masking throughout life has only been minimal, like smiling or nodding more than I felt comfortable doing, doing it because I felt I had to. Pretending I was interestsed in someone's story. I never fake laughed; just fake smiled, nodding, trying not to appear "too serious." I suppress stimming, but that's no big deal; I do socially acceptable stims (foot flapping, toe curling, light leg movements, teeth clicking (invisible), finger movements, muttering under my breath.

I never had a burnout. I never masked enough to have a burnout, which is the result of longterm, full-on masking.

I can pass as non-autistic to anyone who's not familiar enough with autism and only thinks of it in terms of stereotypical or overtly weird behavior. However, be around me long enough and I come off as quirky, odd, a bit weird, different, blunt, too serious, too analytical, too matter-of-fact, not smiling enough, not enough facial expression, too gruff, too quiet, too straightforward, not good at small-talk, eye contact at times too intense or a fixed stare.

To someone very familiar with autism, they'll pick up on it quickly, depending ont he circumstance and context. Or, they may not notice--again, depending on context.

What I'd like to know is how many other autistic women hardly ever masked full-on? I would never know how to do this, and the idea of mimicking other kids when I was growing up was unthinkable. And copying adult women? SICK, I'd never want to act like them.


This was me up until about my thirties when I started feeling *intense* pressure to be "normal," which began to let up finally in my 40s.


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Elgee
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15 Jun 2022, 10:59 pm

nebucasneezer wrote:
I mask by trying to make eye contact, limiting how much I talk about my special interests, trying to make it look like I'm interested, engaging in small talk, and trying not to stim or at least doing "socially acceptable" or discreet stims. Also I'm not sure if this is masking or not but I'll mimic other people's excitement or tones or gestures. I mask almost all the time in public and also to some degree at home with my family (like I'll talk their ears off about my special interests and I won't gesture but I will attempt to make eye contact and put tone in my voice).


I was officially diagnosed earlier this year, but I still don't understand two things: First, what terrible thing do you think would happen to you if you didn't mimic other peoples' excitement or tones or gestures?

Next question, why would you have difficulty with eye contact with your own family members? I can easily give eye contact to anyone and, in fact, I overdo it and don't have an instinctive modulation with it. This may make me come across as very attentive, or, too assertive, or maybe staring right thru someone.



1986
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15 Jun 2022, 11:19 pm

Elgee wrote:
I was officially diagnosed earlier this year, but I still don't understand two things: First, what terrible thing do you think would happen to you if you didn't mimic other peoples' excitement or tones or gestures?

Ostracism, bullying, loneliness, shaming, being excluded from dating, marriage, having a family, etc. Pretty serious stuff depending on how odd you come off as, and in what culture and context.

Elgee wrote:
Next question, why would you have difficulty with eye contact with your own family members? I can easily give eye contact to anyone and, in fact, I overdo it and don't have an instinctive modulation with it. This may make me come across as very attentive, or, too assertive, or maybe staring right thru someone.

Honestly, that's great if it works for you. I can't maintain eye contact and hold a conversation at the same time. My thoughts freeze and I feel physically painful at times. It's not something I have control over. When I was younger and there was more pressure to appear "normal" (to avoid the examples listed above), I used to look people right between their eyes where the nose meets the forehead to avoid the actual eye. My mom thought I couldn't see properly and/or had a lazy eye because of it, but that was the best I could do.

If I didn't mask in public, I'd probably walk like a cartoon character, bombard people with questions about their shoe size, crash and burn in workplace after workplace, and end up homeless.

EDIT: By "not masking in public" I mean "do as I would naturally feel was the right thing to do". Part of how I learned to cope was to find ways and situations where I would be left with enough energy to keep my mask up, thus reaping the social benefits that come with it. The ideal situation, of course, would be one in which there was no need to cope as there would be no problems to begin with.



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15 Jun 2022, 11:35 pm

1986 wrote:
Elgee wrote:
I was officially diagnosed earlier this year, but I still don't understand two things: First, what terrible thing do you think would happen to you if you didn't mimic other peoples' excitement or tones or gestures?

Ostracism, bullying, loneliness, shaming, being excluded from dating, marriage, having a family, etc. Pretty serious stuff depending on how odd you come off as, and in what culture and context.


My biggest effort to mask began after I was washed out of the tech industry with the dot-bomb. Before that, I could still be a better-mannered, more-filtered version of my regular self. As long as I wasn't disruptive (which took a couple of painful years to learn not to be), and wasn't working with NT women, then I could just do my work.

But after the dot-bomb, I really began experiencing problems in workplaces with my autism that I had never experienced before. I also had moved from a major diverse metro area to one conservative town after another. I also, honestly, wanted to try to have friendship and intimacy with people who were a little more stable and more socially adept than the ones I'd found acceptance from.

So I literally had to learn to pass as NT. Preferably, a particular normie type of NT. I managed to get to where people believed me about being ADHD, but I still got asked by some people if I had Aspergers, all my friends (if I had any) were still ND, and nobody really ever believed I was NT. And when I watch old videos/look at old pictures of myself, I don't even see how I'm masking at all. I'm just an autistic who's dressed normie/basic. It's really obvious in photos and video unless I'm deliberately concealing it, in ways it's less obvious in-passing in person.


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IsabellaLinton
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15 Jun 2022, 11:47 pm

klanka wrote:
What specificallly do you do to fit in more or alter your behaviour/mask?

If you were to not mask how would you act in public



I'm not good at masking either.
I don't try to do it because I don't know how -- I couldn't fake it much if I tried.
I'd look more awkward acting like I'm acting, than being myself.

I do have to change my behaviour in public to some extent.
For example, I wear a bra even though I hate them and don't wear them at home.
I stim as much as possible, but in ways that won't make people uncomfortable:

For example I try to avoid these stims:

- putting my fingers in my mouth
- sticking a finger in my ear (I love the sound)
- pulling my hair straight up over my head
- taking my shoes off to play with my bare toes
- chewing on adult chew toys (Chewelry), or pen tops
- brushing my skin with a Walbarger brush
- making a clicking sound with my tongue (It would bug people)

In terms of social etiquette, I use my manners but no eye contact, no smiles, no small talk.

If I were to not mask, I'd be doing all those stims ^ , sitting on the ground or the floor, never wearing shoes, playing with my hair (my entire head of hair, not just a few strands), clapping my hands (always twice), chasing butterflies, singing out loud, and I'd never agree to go anywhere or do anything with other people.

Oh wait, that is my life.



klanka
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16 Jun 2022, 2:42 am

Quote:
If I were to not mask, I'd be doing all those stims ^ , sitting on the ground or the floor, never wearing shoes, playing with my hair (my entire head of hair, not just a few strands), clapping my hands (always twice), chasing butterflies, singing out loud, and I'd never agree to go anywhere or do anything with other people.

:D :D :D :lol: :lol: :lol:


hmm recently I got drunk and well, back when i was a child robotic arms were a new thing. They must have gotten into my child brain
Image

I started imitating that, so that must be my real self.



arachnids
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17 Jun 2022, 11:14 am

I feel like I'm always masking, even at home with the others who are ND and wouldn't really judge. I stop myself from talking to myself. I love talking to myself. I make up songs and rhymes instead.

When masking outside I'm very careful to look like a nice person so people don't have a go at me.


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orbweaver
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17 Jun 2022, 12:35 pm

arachnids wrote:
I feel like I'm always masking, even at home with the others who are ND and wouldn't really judge. I stop myself from talking to myself. I love talking to myself. I make up songs and rhymes instead.

When masking outside I'm very careful to look like a nice person so people don't have a go at me.


The person who first taught me to mask and who I have to mask the hardest around, is another autistic. My high-masking mom who isn't even masking as well as she thinks, but judges from on high the slightest appearance of anyone else's autism. She will decide she hates an entire group she's in because one autistic-acting person is there, and will fixate on them. She fixates and obsesses over my autistic friends and judges me for being friends with "weird people." It's maddening.


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18 Jun 2022, 4:05 pm

Pretending to be what I'm not, in order to impress people. When I'm with my family, I keep Germany to myself and I pretend to wear the British family name to keep peace with my mum.


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