As the #TaketheMaskOff Challenge draws to a close this week, I decided to look back at the past six weeks and what I’ve written here as part of the challenge, and to see how it has impacted me, and what I hope I was able to do with writing these things down here. So, without further ado, here is my very last entry for the #TaketheMaskOff Challenge!
Last week, for Week 5 of the #TaketheMaskOff Challenge, we talked about diagnosis, self-awareness and how that impacts masking. This week, the second to the last week of the challenge, we will be talking about strategies that can be used to to cope with masking. Most of these strategies came from all the lessons and experiences I’ve been through over the years, and in the end, it resulted in me being able to do something a person in the comments section here referred to as “authentic masking”.
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.