We are now in week five of the Take Off The Mask Challenge! Last time, we talked about Autistic Burnout and how it is caused by masking. This week, we will talk about how diagnosis and self-awareness impacts masking. This topic actually does directly lead into next week’s topic, which is all about coping strategies and using them deliberately.
As of the moment, we are currently in the third week of the #TakeTheMaskOff Challenge, and the experience of writing about masking and stimming has been quite liberating for me, and it is also interesting to see how far I’ve come from when I myself didn’t understand my own diagnosis and myself, and I hope that these posts, which talk about masking from my own personal point of view, will allow the readers to understand what we go through, and at the same time, I hope that others like me are encouraged to speak out and make their own voices heard. So far we have talked about masking and stimming. So, for the third week of the challenge, let’s take a look at the physical and mental cost that masking has on individuals with autism, my own personal experience of how exhausting it can be, and what coping strategies I use now in order to lessen the physical and mental exhaustion and stress.
This week’s blog posts are a little bit different, as I posted twice for this week. However, that was only because I had a little “social report” that went hand in hand with a very recent event, and you might see “social reports” like that every once in a while, but, as a rule, I’m sticking to the current schedule of having one blog post per week.
Last time, I kicked off the #TakeTheMaskOff Challenge here on my blog, and talked a little bit about masking and my own experience of masking. This week (Week 2 of the challenge), we’ll be talking about stimming, how it’s related to masking, and my own experience of stimming.
Interestingly enough, even before this challenge started, I had already written about masking and my own experience of it in a previous post. However, I couldn’t help but be excited to join this campaign as things like this aren’t that common to come by. So, from now until the week of September 3, 2018, every Wednesday, I will be putting up a blog post about masking. To either join us in the campaign, or to follow it to see what other content creators who specialize in this topic have to say about it, please follow the #TakeTheMaskOff on social media.
No matter what age you are, most people inherently feel the need to belong to something and to be accepted by society, and the same goes for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, in our case, this tends to be a little bit harder, so we tend to rely on a coping mechanism called “social masking” or camouflaging in order to keep up appearances. This can be emotionally and mentally exhausting for us, but more often than not, we feel that it is necessary in order to blend in with our colleagues and friends. Another coping mechanism that we also use is imitation, and I believe that this one is more prevalent in the teenage and young adult years, especially if you are still figuring out and finding your true self. In this post, I hope to explain both what camouflaging or social masking and what imitation is when it comes to being on the spectrum, and I hope that you will be able to glean some insight as I also reflect on my own experiences with it.
It’s normal for everyone to get tired. However, when you have some form of high functioning autism, it seems as if we are tired ALL the time. And it’s not just the normal kind of tired that most neurotypicals experience after a hard day’s work or a day out in the mall, it’s double that. For a long time, I really never thought to figure it out as I thought it was just normal. However, as I began to truly accept my diagnosis and as I became kinder to myself and my needs, I became more and more aware that me feeling tired a lot was a recurring thing, and it did come hand in hand with me being an Aspie. It was only later on that I discovered that the reason behind this is because our brains are working twice as hard as compared to neurotypicals when we are out.
At one point or another, those around an autistic person, especially their family members, will see their loved one going through what is known as a meltdown. However, not many people know what it is, and sometimes, many think that the person in question is just being a spoiled brat or is throwing a tantrum. When I was in high school and in college, before I learned my diagnosis, that is exactly what I thought it was, and wondered why I still did it, why I couldn’t control it, and why it was always intense to the point that I ended up being physically and mentally exhausted. Now that I know what it is, I hope to be able to explain what a meltdown is, what it may look like, and what steps can be done in order to help someone going through a meltdown.