Autistic Masking 掩蓋自閉症

I figured since the name of this website has to do with “Autistic Masking”, we should probably talk about what that is, right? The short answer is that autistic masking is hiding or suppressing autistic symptoms or traits in order to be accepted by others, or to make life easier in some way. Hence, the mask. We put on a mask and hide our true selves from others. This isn’t meant to be manipulative or to be fake, but is meant as a self-protective measure because many of us have been bullied for our odd behavior.

Here are some common things that many autistic people have heard throughout our lives:

  • You need to grow up, or mature.
  • Stop being so rude!
  • You make people uncomfortable.
  • No. Don’t do that. Stop moving. Look this way.
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • Do you ever talk?
  • Please stop talking.
  • Calm down.
  • You’re weird/strange/odd.
  • Are you on drugs?
  • Can’t you just try harder?
  • You’re so selfish!
  • Do you even care about me/her/him/anyone?

SOME COMMON WAYS OF AUTISTIC MASKING

Just as a note, not all autistic people will struggle with these issues or will mask in all of these ways. These are just some common ones.

STIMMING – An obvious one is suppressing stims. (Stims are just repetitive movements that autistic people do which they find calming, like rocking, spinning, or hand flapping.) Because these movements are often targeted as “problem behaviors”, we quickly learn to suppress and hide them. I’ve had a teacher make me sit on my hands because I was moving too much and distracting other children. Rocking, which is one of my favorites, is seen as infantile. All these hand movements, spinning, rocking, and even noises can be criticised as “not normal”, immature, or “being on drugs”.

We will often force ourselves to be as still as possible. This causes many of us to continually tense our bodies. We can also resort to other harmful stims in an effort to not be obvious. I would take my thumb nail and repeatedly dig it into the side of leg, and because my work pants were often thin, I would sometimes scratch so much I would end up bleeding. I know another woman who would bite the skin around her nails to keep from stimming, and now the skin around her nails is scarred. And all this effort of constantly suppressing and containing these stims can lead to meltdowns and explosions.

If you think of stims as a pressure valve, then stimming is what regulates emotion and the sensory system that we can often get overwhelmed with. If you turn that pressure valve off, the tank that the pressure valve is attached to will eventually explode. That’s what happens when autistic people aren’t allowed to stim. Now, there are harmful stims that can be problematic to the person, and I’ll talk about that in a different post. For those, you basically need to redirect the stim to something that isn’t harmful. If the autistic person isn’t hurting themselves or anyone else, just let them stim.

EYE CONTACT – Many of us learn to give eye contact, because if we don’t, we either appear rude, or the other person thinks we aren’t listening. There are tricks to this, such as looking right in between someone’s eyes, looking at their nose, or looking around their eyes. Sometimes, I can get away with looking at them when they are talking and then looking away when I’m talking.

Eye contact can often feel very intense and intimate. It can even feel so intense that some of us will have a physical pain reaction. This doesn’t happen to me too often. What happens more for me is that I have trouble concentrating fully on what you’re saying. If I don’t look at you, I can visualize what you’re saying and visually access the information I need to respond to you. All of that visualization stops when I look at you.

You can teach a person to face the person they are talking to without forcing eye contact, and teaching them to say the name of the other person to get their attention. There are ways around eye contact to get what you need from the autistic person. You just need to be creative with your solutions.

SCRIPTING – I used to think I was the only person who did this. After talking with other autistic people, I’ve realized that it’s something many of us do. If we know there is an upcoming social event or just a conversation that we are anxious about, we will come up with scripts and rehearse them in our heads. We will also have multiple versions of these scripts. We will think of all the different kinds of conversations and the different ways a conversation can go.

This can have both positive and negative effects. The positive is that we can look like we have amazing social skills, and can lead to gaining friends. The negatives are that we can look like we have amazing social skills, which leads to people not believing our diagnosis or just not getting one, and the other people in the conversation with us don’t have the scripts we created. This means we can look like we are dominating the conversation when really, we’re just going through the scripts we spent hours creating. Also what happens when they go off script? What do we do then? We didn’t prepare for that.

SILENCE – This one may sound odd, but many of us just choose not to say anything even when we want to. A topic of interest is brought up, but we will remain silent. Many have been told that we are too intense about our interests and don’t let others talk. So we may be in a situation where we have something we really want to share, but we don’t want to be seen as too intense. We might not even know if people want to know ALL the details we have to share.

NEGATIVES OF MASKING

I think at this point, it’s pretty obvious that masking can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health. When I was in high school, I was constantly in pain and didn’t understand why. Now, I understand that I was autistic, and was exhausted from constantly masking it just to function in school and everywhere else. I would harm myself and just wanted to die, but not because I really wanted to die. I just wanted everything to stop. No one understood me, and I didn’t understand myself.

Many adults who get diagnosed later in life, get diagnosed after some sort of mental health break. Masking is how we blend in, get an education, get a job, interact with people, but it’s so exhausting. So we often end up with depression and anxiety and thinking about suicide. It can be a very dark and lonely place, especially if you don’t know you’re autistic and haven’t been diagnosed yet.

SOME NECESSARY REASONS FOR MASKING

Now, I do need to say that I wish some of these weren’t necessary. Unfortunately, our world isn’t always fair or kind. I also live in America. So this will be from my perspective of living here. Some of this will apply to any country, while other parts of it will apply to America or other similar Western countries.

SUPPRESSING STIMS – It’s nice to say that we should be able to stim in public, and that if more of us do it then society will get used to it. However, there are a few problems with this. It causes me more anxiety to know that people are staring at me. So I have to weigh out my need to stim with the anxiety of having people stare at me. I have a few small public stims that aren’t too obvious that give me what I need, but don’t seem to disturb others too much or attract attention.

I also have the problem of worrying about people calling the cops on “the woman on drugs” walking down the street. I don’t have this thought too often when I’m by myself, but I definitely think about it when I’m with my children. I can already imagine people calling the cops on the “unfit mother on drugs walking down the street with her children”. This is me as a white woman in America. Imagine being a black autistic person in America. They have a much higher chance of the cops being called on them.

EYE CONTACT – Some people will take this as a sign of disrespect and can get very aggressive about it. Some of this is dependent on the situation and the person, and sometimes it has to do with people in positions of authority, like police officers. This is why I would really like to see training added into the police force about better handling people with mental health issues and developmental disorders like autism. If you have inconsistent eye contact with a police officer, they will often either assume that you are being non-compliant, or that you are drunk or high.

SCRIPTING – Sometimes scripting can be helpful to just get through a quick interaction, get what you need done, and get home. For example, you’re at the store and need to get your food and leave. You can use your scripts to talk with the store clerk and maybe the person in line with you if needed. You’re likely not going to see them again and the interaction is fairly short.

You might be in a conversation where you’re not certain what you want the other person to know about you. So you have a few practiced conversations in your back pocket that you can pull out, get through that interaction, and then go home. You’ll notice the important part of using scripting to get through specific situations, and then going to a safe place, like your home, to relax and recover.

CONCLUSION

I hope that gives you a better understanding of what masking is and why many of us do it. A fun fact is that women tend to mask more than men. So autistic women will often seem to have better social skills than autistic men. However, men can and do mask as well. How much a person masks and what they do, will be different for each person. I support autistic people not continuously masking, because it is very damaging for our mental health, but I also understand that there can be times where it is necessary. You’ll have decide what’s going to be best for you.

我認為,既然該網站的名稱與【掩蓋自閉症】有關,那麽我們可能應該談談這是什麽,對吧?簡短的答案是掩蓋自閉症正在隱藏或抑制自閉症的症狀或特質,一邊被他人接受或以某種方式生活更輕鬆。我們戴上口罩,將自己的真實自我與他人隱藏。這就是為什麽我們許多人將使用口罩的圖像對此進行解釋的原因。

以下是自閉症人一生中常聽到的一些常見事情:

  • 你需要長大或成熟。
  • 別這麽無禮!
  • 你使人感到不舒服。
  • 不,不要那樣做。別動了。這樣看。
  • 你吃錯藥了嗎?
  • 你會説話嗎?
  • 請不要講話。
  • 冷靜。
  • 你很奇怪。
  • 你吸毒嗎?
  • 你不能更努力嗎?
  • 你真自私!
  • 你甚至在乎我/他/她/任何人嗎?

《掩蓋自閉症的一些常見方式》

值得一提的是,並非所有的自閉症人都會爲這些問題而苦惱,或者會以所有這些方式來隱藏他們的自閉症。這些只是一些常用方法。

STIMMING – 一個明顯的例子是抑制stimming。(Stims只是自閉症人幫助會感到鎮靜的重複性動作:搖擺,旋轉或手部動作。) 我們很快學會抑制和隱藏它們,因為這些運動通常被視為【問題行為】。老師强迫我坐在我的手上,因為我移動的太多了,分散了其他孩子的注意力。搖擺是我的最愛之一,被視為稚氣。所有這些手部動作,旋轉,搖擺甚至是聲音都可以被批評為“不正常”,不成熟或“正在吸毒”。

我們經常會强迫自己保持靜止。這導致我們許多人不斷的緊張我們的身體。我們也可以求助於其他有害的stims,以免變得不明顯。我認識另一個女人,她會咬指甲周圍的皮膚以防止stimming,現在指甲周圍的皮膚已經結疤了。不斷抑制和遏制這些stims的所有這些努力可能導致崩潰和爆炸。

如果你將stims視為壓力閥,那麽stimming就是調節情緒和我們不堪重負的感覺系統的因素。如果關閉該壓力閥,則該壓力閥所連接的水箱會爆炸。那就是儅自閉症人不允許stim是會發生的情況。OK,有些有害的stims可能會對這個人造成困擾,我將在另一篇博客文章中討論這些stims。對於這些,你基本上需要將stims重定向到無害的内容。如果自閉症人沒有傷害自己其他任何人,則讓他們stim。

眼神接觸 – 我們中的許多人都學會了眼神交流,因為如果我們不這樣做,我們要麽顯得粗魯,要麽另一個人以為我們不再聼。有一些技巧,例如在某人的雙眼之間注視或注視著鼻子。有時,我可以在他們説話是看著他們,然後再我説話是看著別處。

眼神交流經常會感到非常激烈和親密。甚至感覺非常强烈,以至於我們中的一些人會感到身體疼痛。這不是我經常發生的情況。對我而言,更糟糕的是,我無法完全專注於你所説的話。如果我不看你,我可以形象地看到你在説什麽,並從視覺上思考我需要對你説什麽。儅我看著你時,所有的可視化都停止了。

你可以教一個人面對他們正在交談的人而不必强迫目光接觸,並教他們説出另一個人的名字來引起他們的注意。直接眼神接觸有很多選擇。你只需要考慮自閉症人的最終目標是什麽,並且要有創造力即可。

用劇本説話 – 我曾經以為我是唯一這樣做的人。與其他自閉症人交談後,我意識到這是我們許多人要做的事情。如果我們知道即將到來的社交活動或只是我們擔心的對話,我們將提出脚本並在腦海中排練。我們還將有這些脚本的多個版本。我們將考慮所有不同類型的對話進行的不同方式。

這可能同時具有正面和負面影響。積極的一面是,我們看起來像我們擁有驚人的社交金額能,并且可以結識朋友。不利的一面是,我們看起來像我們擁有驚人的社交金額能,這倒是人們不相信我們的診斷或只是沒有得到診斷。另外,與我們交談的其他人也沒有我們創建的脚本。這意味著我們看起來好像在主導對話,而實際上我們只是在遍歷脚本。當他們退出脚本時會發生什麽?那我們該怎麽辦?我們沒有為此做準備。

安靜 – 這聽起來可能很奇怪,但我們中的許多人甚至選擇了不説話。提出了一個有趣的話題,但我們保持沉默。我們中的許多人都被告知,我們對自己的利益過於關注,不讓其他人講話。因此,我們可能處於一種我們確實想分享的東西的情況下,但是我們不想被視為霸道。我們甚至可能不知道人們是否想我們必須分享的所有細節。

《“掩蓋自閉症”的負數》

我認為,很明顯,不斷隱藏自閉症會對人們的心裏健康產生重大影響。儅我上高中時,我一直在痛苦,不了解爲什麽。我會傷害自己,只是想死,但不是因為我真的想死。我只是想停止一切。沒有人了解我,我也不了解我自己。

許多成年後被診斷出的成年人,在經歷了許多關於自己的心理健康問題後被診斷出。隱藏我們的自閉症特徵和症狀是我們如何融入,接受教育,貨的工作,與人互動的方式,但是它是如此累人。因此,我們經常會以抑鬱和焦慮以及自殺最終結局。它可能是一個非常黑暗和孤獨的地方,尤其是如果你不知道自己患有自閉症且尚未被診斷出來的話。

《“掩蓋自閉症”的一些必要原因》

首先,我確實要說,如果其中一些不必要的話,我會喜歡的。不幸的是,我們的世界並不總是公平或友善的。我也住在美國。所以這將是我生活在這裡的觀點。其中一些適用於任何國家,而其他部分則僅適用于美國或其他類似的西方國家。

抑制stims – 很高興地説,我們應該能夠在公共場合stim,而且如果我們中的更多人在公共場合stim,那麽社會就會習慣它了。但是,這有一些問題。知道別人在盯著我,這使我更加焦盧。因此,我必須考慮需要別人盯著我stim的焦慮。我有一些不太明顯的小stims,可以滿足我的需求,但似乎不會打擾別人或吸引太多注意力。

我還有另一個問題:擔心有人打電話報警,報告一名走在街上的毒品婦女。當我一個人時,我不會經常想到這種想法,但是儅我和我的孩子們在一起時,我肯定會考慮一下。我是美國的白種女人,我會考慮這些事情。想象一下,作為一個非洲裔美國自閉症人。更有可能有人將其報告給警察。

眼神接觸 – 有些人會將其視為不尊重的標識,並且對此會變得非常激進。其中一些取決於情況和人。有時,這與諸如警察之類的權威人士有關。這就是爲什麽我真的希望看到警察部隊接受了關於如何更好地處理患有精神健康問題和發育障礙的人的培訓。如果你與警官的眼神交流不一致,他們通常會假設你不合規,或者你醉酒或吸毒。

用劇本説話 – 有時候,在談話使用脚本可能有助於快速互動,完成需要完成的工作並回家。例如,你在商店裡,需要購買餐飲和離開。你可以使用脚本與店員以及必要時站在你旁邊的人交談。你不太可能再次看到他們,並且交互非常短。

你可能在對話中不確定自己希望對方知道關於你的什麽。因此,你可以進行一些練習的對話,以用於這些情況,通過互動進行交流,然後回家。你會注意到一種使用脚本的方式:使用它來度過特定的狀況,然後去到安全的空間,例如你的家,以放鬆和恢復。

《結論》

我希望這能是你更好地理解什麽是【掩蓋自閉症】以及我們為什麽這麽做。一個有趣的事實是,女人比男人更傾向於掩蓋自閉症。因此,自閉症女人通常似乎比自閉症男人具有更好的社交能力。但是,自閉症男人也可以掩蓋自閉症。每個人的工作量和工作方式因人而異。但我了解,有時可能有必要。你必須界定最適合你的。

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