Mask or hide autism spectrum disorder

Mask Or Hide Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mask or hide autism spectrum disorder

translation: a. Ashwaq Al-Anzi

Have you ever heard of autism masking?

What is meant by mask or camouflage?

It means hiding or camouflaging parts of oneself in order to better fit in with those around you. Sometimes it can be fun to hide your identity and pretend to be someone else, As for people with autism spectrum disorder, concealment is a life skill they develop to blend in with their peers to ensure that their autism spectrum disorder characteristics are not noticed. Unfortunately, when masking becomes part of the daily routine, something people diagnosed with ASD feel they must maintain because their social norms differ from others around them, They often face greater pressure to hide their true selves and fit into that culture with ordinary people. More often than not, they have to spend their entire lives hiding their autism spectrum disorder traits and trying to adapt. Although the odds of appearing like others are not always in their favor and this brings major problems for them, It is often the most entrenched and harmful strategy to their health and well-being because masking or camouflaging may involve suppressing certain behaviors that are soothing and that others think are strange to people diagnosed with ASD, such as repetitive stereotypic behaviors or restricted interests.

What is masking autism spectrum disorder?

The term masking of autism spectrum disorder is used to describe behaviors that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder use to suppress or hide the distinctive characteristics of the disorder. It can also mean imitating or mirroring people’s behavior and developing conversations and language that work in social situations.

Some examples of masking autism spectrum disorder

  • An adult who is sensitive to sound may try to avoid responding to loud noises.
  • A child who often engages in stereotyped behaviors such as licking his hands or rocking back and forth may try to stop those movements.
  • A person struggling to understand language may pretend to follow the conversation.

Since in each case the goal of concealment is to avoid being judged by others as different, Masking may be a natural consequence of some interventions, such as the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach, which aims to help children with autism spectrum disorder improve their behavioral functions.

The most common conditions for concealing autism spectrum disorder

At one time or another, Almost everyone strives to gain acceptance and meet social expectations, For individuals with autism spectrum disorder this stress can be more severe because they already feel they have a deficit.

Who is most likely to harbor autism spectrum disorder traits?

  • People who fall at the moderate end of the spectrum and need little support (mild degree of disorder).
  • Females with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
  • People with autism spectrum disorder who have been bullied or experienced social rejection.
  • People with autism spectrum disorder who strive to achieve a specific goal or obtain something, Such as getting a job or wanting to attend parties.

Disadvantages of hiding autism spectrum disorder

Masking autism spectrum disorder can help children and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder fit in with peers at school and work in the short term. It can also help them gain social acceptance and enhance greater self-confidence. But if masking becomes part of a person’s daily routine, it may create new problems. including:

  1. Late diagnosis: Suppression of certain socially unacceptable behaviors can lead to delayed diagnosis for a subset of children, Especially individuals with only mild autism spectrum disorder, which means they will not receive the necessary care.
  2. Exhaustion: “Hiding traits of autism spectrum disorder can be emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting.” As Dr. Johnson Hopper says, When children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder use all their energy to suppress and hide their authentic selves, There is nothing left for social connections, learning and creative thinking and over time the intensity of concentration can lead to stress, irritation, anger and exhaustion.
  3. Mental health challenges: Studies show that adults who harbor autism spectrum disorder traits are more likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression. Therefore, it is important for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to feel accepted by the outside world and to receive help from community members, especially for individuals who hide their autism spectrum disorder.

It can be difficult to know how to support an individual who is experiencing the stress of trying to adapt to a world that is not prepared for their way of thinking. Even individuals who have not been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder may find themselves trying to hide differences such as ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and learning disabilities. “Even individuals who have not been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder may engage in concealing behaviors,” says Dr. Johnson-Hooper.

Awareness and treatment:

Whether someone you care about has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or some other disorder, You can use the following strategies to help him better navigate the outside world:

  • Showing acceptance: Make sure the individual knows that they do not have to hide their true self from you regardless of the degree of autism spectrum disorder so it is important to assure them that they are worthy of love and acceptance.
  • Don’t take tantrums personally: If your child comes home and becomes irritable, moody, or anxious, remember that it’s not necessarily about you. Meeting social demands throughout the day is hard and stressful work for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Prepare a simple script: Preparing simple texts for a child with autism spectrum disorder to memorize and use in social situations. Also, adolescents with autism spectrum disorder should be helped to find ways to reduce the concealment of autism spectrum disorder by preparing social scripts so that they have something to say in different social environments and situations.
  • Finding solutions: Children with repetitive stereotyped behaviors may benefit from adopting a socially acceptable solution or alternative behavior. So babies who rock back and forth can try a swaying chair, Dr. Johnson Hooper says: “One case, a young woman diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, worked to keep her hands busy knitting.”


Belcher. Hannah ( 2022, July 7) . Autistic people and masking . National Autistic Society.

Henry Ford Health Staff.(2023, April 20) Autism Masking Is Common. Here’s How To Recognize And Offer Support. Henry Ford Health