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mattw
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05 Aug 2022, 3:24 pm

I’ve been in my current job for over 5 years, and have a number of close friends at work - all whom are aware of my high functioning autism. Most days are fine at work, and I’m able to be myself around my closer friends, who I also work most closely with.

I’ve recently discovered around others I am masking my autism, and this left to a burnout last week - one of my colleagues/friends was amazing and did nothing but support me at the time, and has continued to do since (she’s probably one of my best friends - not that I have many!). We’ve met for coffees before work, and chatted over lunch since, sometimes just chatting about random stuff and others about how I can try and help myself and share that I have autism with others without this having a negative impact on work and my relationships with others.

Does anyone have any tips on how they avoid masking at work, as I don’t want this to lead to burnout again?

And also if anyone has shared with their colleagues about having autism and how they’ve gone about this.



kraftiekortie
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05 Aug 2022, 6:27 pm

What sort of job do you do?



DanielW
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05 Aug 2022, 6:45 pm

Masking isn't something I can turn on and off. Its reflexive. Avoiding burn-out is different for everyone. Things like meeting for coffee before work and chatting at lunch are two things that would actually stress me rather than relax me, but we all have different needs and abilities and so don't respond the same way to socializing.

Generally, avoiding burn-out means conserving and replenishing your energy. That means different things for all of us.



mattw
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06 Aug 2022, 1:49 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
What sort of job do you do?


I’m a web developer in a digital advertising agency - so work with a whole bunch of other professions



mattw
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06 Aug 2022, 1:53 am

DanielW wrote:
Masking isn't something I can turn on and off. Its reflexive. Avoiding burn-out is different for everyone. Things like meeting for coffee before work and chatting at lunch are two things that would actually stress me rather than relax me, but we all have different needs and abilities and so don't respond the same way to socializing.

Generally, avoiding burn-out means conserving and replenishing your energy. That means different things for all of us.


Agreed, I don’t think it’s something I turn on/off consciously. There’s just some people I feel more comfortable around so naturally don’t mask as much.

I think in terms of going for a coffee with most people before work, I would find that more stressful than not going, but with a close friend it can sometimes be a good way to start the day.

Completely get there’s no one size fits all when it comes to preventing burnout!



DanielW
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06 Aug 2022, 10:27 am

mattw wrote:
DanielW wrote:
Masking isn't something I can turn on and off. Its reflexive. Avoiding burn-out is different for everyone. Things like meeting for coffee before work and chatting at lunch are two things that would actually stress me rather than relax me, but we all have different needs and abilities and so don't respond the same way to socializing.

Generally, avoiding burn-out means conserving and replenishing your energy. That means different things for all of us.


Agreed, I don’t think it’s something I turn on/off consciously. There’s just some people I feel more comfortable around so naturally don’t mask as much.

I think in terms of going for a coffee with most people before work, I would find that more stressful than not going, but with a close friend it can sometimes be a good way to start the day.

Completely get there’s no one size fits all when it comes to preventing burnout!


What types of things are you masking at work? Do you stim? Are you forcing more Neurotypical behaviors like eye-contact?

Some things are more a matter of self-acceptance than they are of being accepted by peers. Personally, I spend so much more time and energy trying to appear "human" than I really need to, at least not to the extreme. Once co-workers get to know me, they are less apt to be put off by my quirks.

I never get the usual, "you don't look autistic" response from people, but I haven't had any really negative reactions when I do say so either.



kraftiekortie
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06 Aug 2022, 11:34 am

I believe that amongst web developers, there is more toleration for quirky behavior than in most other professions.

As long as you don’t do something overtly antagonistic to somebody, and you get the work done correctly, and you don’t overtly stim, then I don’t see much reason for masking.

Then again, it could depend upon an individual situation or company.



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06 Aug 2022, 3:17 pm

I seem to subconsciously mask when at work, so it doesn't lead to burnout for me. I have to consciously mask when in crowded public places though.

I just be myself when I'm at work, meaning I obviously be approachable but I don't go around pretending to be someone I'm not. I've made that mistake before when I was younger. When I was 18 I started volunteering and I made a promise to myself not to be shy and to be more talkative. So I did, I forced myself to chat more and ask more questions and be more outspoken. But it just ended in failure, humiliation and tears (in other words, some of the other volunteers emotionally bullied me for it, saying I was too in their face).

So now I just be meek and mild. I don't overdo it. If I'm quiet and got nothing to say then I'm quite and have nothing to say. If I do have things to say then I'll say it (within reason, of course). I know when to keep quiet, if someone badmouths someone else to me I don't go and tell, I just keep it to myself, and I have earned people's trust due to this.

One or two people at work think I'm snobby, well, nobody's ever said but I still know. I'm not snobby though, far from it. I'm just me not pretending to be anything I'm not.


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07 Aug 2022, 8:04 am

mattw wrote:
Does anyone have any tips on how they avoid masking at work, as I don’t want this to lead to burnout again?


I do not have any tips to avoid it. And the topic of 'dropping the mask' in the workplace can be complex. And in a large part might depend on the response of the people you work with.

Quote:
And also if anyone has shared with their colleagues about having autism and how they’ve gone about this.


I told one. And it is someone where I can talk about some of the stuff I take a special interest in. So that is a plus. He did not even suspected it, until I told him.

An other coworker discovered it on his own. Trying to figure out why I sometimes respond like I did.

But overall, I have not told it to many people at my work.