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Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?


  • Total voters
    21
When I try to pass as NT in public or in social situations, it is very exhausting and tiring. Please reply to this thread.

1. Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?

2. Why did you try to pass as NT?

3. What was your experience like, and was it exhausting or tiring?
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
I have never tried to "pass" as an NT. That kind of implies there's a scarlet letter hanging around my neck that I need to hide. I try to avoid doing things that I know will irritate other people. There is a difference.

Other people will not look at me and say "Ugh! He's autistic!" They'll say, "Ugh! He is annoying." So I'm just trying to not be annoying, not hiding who I am.

I don't try to pretend not to enjoy anime or love science. But I do try to avoid info dumping because I know most other people don't find it interesting. I do try to find some meaning in what other people say. Sometimes I even succeed.

I'll hang back, be quiet, and do a lot of people-watching before I try to socialize with someone specific. I do not jump into a conversation or try to win arguments because "I know better." Let the other guy "win" because it doesn't matter. Or better yet, don't get into an argument over it to begin with.

If it is just too much stress to socialize, I'll just find a way to not hang around. God bless the smartphone.
 

Thinx

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I am not trying to pass as NT, but in my generation everyone assumed we were all NT so those of us who weren't just automatically learned to mask, or else didn't or couldn't and maybe got diagnosed. But I don't think many were diagnosed compared to nowadays.

I guess I didn't realise that's why I was always tired or needed every evening to be alone time. I would go to the arts cinema alone and think I had socialised... well there were people there...

But also, all of us are different and have different challenges. I wish we needn't mask. Not sure how realistic that is yet, though, if we want to work or mix with others at work or events. I tend to go for semi structured mixing, like volunteering. Mostly I like to spend time alone though. Or with my partner. Not speaking much usually...
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
I am not trying to pass as NT, but in my generation everyone assumed we were all NT so those of us who weren't just automatically learned to mask, or else didn't or couldn't and maybe got diagnosed. But I don't think many were diagnosed compared to nowadays.

I guess I didn't realise that's why I was always tired or needed every evening to be alone time. I would go to the arts cinema alone and think I had socialised... well there were people there...

But also, all of us are different and have different challenges. I wish we needn't mask. Not sure how realistic that is yet, though, if we want to work or mix with others at work or events. I tend to go for semi structured mixing, like volunteering. Mostly I like to spend time alone though. Or with my partner. Not speaking much usually...
Introverts generally need to be alone to regenerate energy. Extraverts generally generate energy by being with other people. I don't believe this has anything to do with being on the spectrum. I think it is part of being an introvert.
 

Thinx

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Introverts generally need to be alone to regenerate energy. Extraverts generally generate energy by being with other people. I don't believe this has anything to do with being on the spectrum. I think it is part of being an introvert.

I probably didn't give enough detail for you to pull out what I experience as part of autism. However my behaviours were not due solely to introversion. They were due to not having the NT intuitive social abilities and to then being isolated socially, but without an explanation for why. I often felt puzzled and stressed about that, and my seeming inability to socialise or get any of that right.

This to me is a central aspect of ASD1. I did a lot of therapy to try to help myself with that, but as I wasn't shy or just introverted, the issues weren't solved. Until I theorised a lack of something, and connected it to autism. Much later in life.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
in my generation everyone assumed we were all NT so those of us who weren't just automatically learned to mask,

I definitely relate to this and the mask metaphor, I have done it always, but only realized in the last 6months or so. The very thought of dismantling it now is very scary. For me, the mask has been armor – a means of survival. Sometimes my drawings are a better representation of how I’m feeling, when things are difficult to explain:

upload_2022-7-7_3-47-28.png


Thank you for this topic, it is very helpful to me.
 

Storm Hess

Permanent Spaceman
When I try to pass as NT in public or in social situations, it is very exhausting and tiring. Please reply to this thread.

1. Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?

2. Why did you try to pass as NT?

3. What was your experience like, and was it exhausting or tiring?
I was forced to mask by my parents through fear. Even with masking I still had my shortcomings and inability to blend in.

My experience was exhausting, mentally and emotionally destroying. Yet, I got through it and now have deeper understanding.
 

Slim Jim

has glasses,shirt,hair, just need jim charisma now
All the time. Every time. It's hard to sustain enthusiasm though. And I'm never really comfortable. I guess the more a person knows you the more a person might tend to pick up on your quirks.

Other people will not look at me and say "Ugh! He's autistic!" They'll say, "Ugh! He is annoying." So I'm just trying to not be annoying, not hiding who I am.

Yeah. Maybe I'm mistaken, But I have confidence in my ability, to pass as 'normal', you know all those qualities people like, puts people at ease ...well for a little while anyway.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
When I try to pass as NT in public or in social situations, it is very exhausting and tiring. Please reply to this thread.

1. Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?

2. Why did you try to pass as NT?

3. What was your experience like, and was it exhausting or tiring?

This is from the perspective of a 56yr old who works in healthcare and education. Whether I am dealing with my co-workers, my patient's families, my students,...there is an expectation,...social norms. In my experience,...after many years of NOT knowing I had an ASD,...and now knowing I do,...I approach things a bit differently. When I have 50 years of my life THINKING I know how to act,...but then after my diagnosis and research, was somewhat mortified at how wrong I was,...and why. That's some handy information.

I am always using my internal monologue when I am dealing with people. It's like my brain has this "default" setting,...my autism,...and then, my "little voice" in my head saying,..."OK, so in this situation, you need to enhance your social reciprocity, act interested in the other person, ask questions, look them in the eye, calm-assertive behavior,...." In other situations, the "little voice" might say,..."You are the senior member, the mentor, the educator, the team leader,...be that person."

That said, I am often given a work load that exceeds my ability to do in a timely manner,...and then, I have to deal with emergency situations, deliveries of babies, running labs on our machines,...a bunch of stuff that just randomly pops up that I can't plan for,...and I still have to be the helper and resource person on a busy 110-bed intensive care unit. Do I get mentally exhausted? Very much so. However, I try to pace myself and will slip into the locker room or a restroom to take a 5-10 min "mini break" when I can,...just to gather myself.

As a person with an ASD, I am very self-aware of myself, my environment, and the people I am interacting with. I can say with some confidence, as much as I try, there are situations where I know I am doing a poor job of "masking",...but from a customer service perspective,...from a professional perspective,...I still have to try. Some of my close co-workers know I am autistic, my students know I am autistic,...and when I run into specific situations where it is appropriate, I will simply say, "Sorry, I am autistic and having some difficulty with,...". There are times when I just need to be myself,...especially when I am mentally exhausted,...as it becomes increasingly difficult to be "in character",...and furthermore, it's these situations when my sensory issues act up and I just want to crawl into a quiet, dark corner and close my eyes. I withdrawal socially and communicatively.

I am not in a situation professionally where I can run on my "default" setting. Within this context, my masking is not about,...or for myself,...as I am a representative for the organization that I work for.



 
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Magna

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Is masking a display that is relegated more often among Level 1 ASD than Level 2 or Level 3? I would assume that's likely to be the case.

I've done my best at masking throughout life when I've needed to "run with the pack" for various reasons. Humans in general and therefore NTs in general since they comprise the majority of humans are very pack oriented. Sameness is safe for them.
 
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Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Is masking a display that is relegated more often among Level 1 ASD than Level 2 or Level 3? I would assume that's likely to be the case.

I've done my best at masking throughout life when I've needed to "run with the pack" for various reasons. Humans in general and therefore NTs in general since they comprise the majority of humans are very pack oriented. Sameness is safe for them.

Good question. I think from the way you worded your question, I think you already know the answer. I highly suspect that the higher the intellect of the person, the more likely that "masking" is regulated, modulated, and often needed (i.e. socially and professionally). If your inner circle of people is of higher intellect and behave a certain way,...you tend to do this as well,..."pack oriented",..."safe" as you put it.
 

Gerontius

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I use social surroundings to help me rewrite my social script & fit it for the occasion. Maybe this is what NT's do, but I'm not sure--It doesn't matter, because it works great for me!

Many autistic folks seem to operate on a sort of pre-recorded mental script. This kinda works--but it can be limited, so it's helpful to develop more scripts based on various occasions.
 

Mills

Active Member
1. Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?
Yes, especially when I was in school, and now at work. I realized early on that people thought that I was different and would really try to fit in. Of course, that didn't work. When I got my diagnosis a couple years ago, I started making a conscious effort to try and identify when I’m masking.

2. Why did you try to pass as NT?
Because I wanted to seem "normal", or what society perceived as normal. The alternative would being bullied or outcast. Now that I'm an adult, I'm a lot less concerned with people's opinions, but still catch myself attempting to be something I'm not.


3. What was your experience like, and was it exhausting or tiring?
I’m always exhausted after masking. It is really hard to act fake. I had a job where I was always pretending, and when I came home, I would just fall asleep. Luckily, I’ve quit that position and am now looking for something where I can be more authentic.
 

dragonfire42

Perpetual outsider
I don’t exactly mask. I’ve always known it’s pointless to try to “pass” as NT, by the time I realized that that would solve some problems I already had a deeply engraved reputation as “different,” “weird,” etc, there wasn’t a way to lose that. Actually masking is too advanced for me - I don’t have the required knowledge of social norms, or the ability to focus on more than one social task at a time. I could try to remember a set of rules, or monitor my body language, or try to interpret someone else’s, or try to process someone else’s words, or try to speak. I can usually switch in very short order during an interaction (so, say, I have only a second or two after someone else finishes speaking while I put my reply in order), but I can’t readily accomplish more than one simultaneously. What I’m not focusing on is filed away for future analysis, I don’t have the mental energy to try to do it all at the time it’s occurring. I can’t predict humans well enough to plan more than one or two steps ahead, I quickly realized that trying to “script” or “rehearse” didn’t do me much good.

What I do instead is basically just hiding. I don’t show the “real me”, but I have nothing to put up in its place. I learn what not to do, but haven’t had much luck in figuring out what to do that actually works when it’s me trying to do it. I both consciously and subconsciously trained myself to avoid drawing any attention, positive, negative, or neutral. I didn’t understand humans well enough to know which to expect until well after it had become ingrained in me, to the point where I no longer know how not to do it. Basically what I do is basically become the equivalent of a potted plant in the corner of a room - others see me enough not to run into me or try to sit in a chair I’m sitting in (usually), but beyond that, I may as well not be there at all. That’s the best I can do, but it’s just as essential to trying to survive in human society.
 

Sunny1

BeautySeeker
V.I.P Member
I definitely relate to this and the mask metaphor, I have done it always, but only realized in the last 6months or so. The very thought of dismantling it now is very scary. For me, the mask has been armor – a means of survival. Sometimes my drawings are a better representation of how I’m feeling, when things are difficult to explain:

View attachment 81246

Thank you for this topic, it is very helpful to me.
Thank you for sharing your drawing. I love it!
 

clg114

Still crazy, after all these years.
Staff member
V.I.P Member
The only person that I know how to be is myself. If others do not like me, it is their problem, not mine.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
I was forced to mask by my abusers for most of my childhood, if I “acted autistic” I was punished. Same with some ABA therapists I had.
I still mask sometimes because of this, but I didn’t realize I do that until I joined the forums.

Now I’m more accepting of my own autistic traits and actually enjoy some of them. And a lot of people seem to find me likeable now which was not the case in childhood or early adulthood.

I don’t feel like I need to “pass” as NT. I don’t care. It’s more that I have a fear of being bullied or abused so I prefer not to tell people up front that I’m autistic. If they find out and that makes them not like me as a person, that shows what kind of people they are.

But like clg114 said, I like being myself and it’s other people’s problem if they don’t like it. It hurts when people don’t like me and I do beat myself up about it sometimes, but I’m not going to stop being myself or change my personality for anyone!
 

Tuffsy

Active Member
Yes, like a lot of others here in their 50s and 60s, not knowing about Aspergers, I masked/pretended to be what I wasn't because of fear of rejection, bullying etc. When I started work as a computer techie it fitted my personality perfectly, but as is usual in the world, if you are good at something you get promoted to a higher position which in my case did not work and I had to mask and was very stressed nearly all of my working life. Partly my fault for always accepting a challenge, like becoming "Global Director of Business Continuity" (what? You might say!) Finally masking took it's toll physically as well as mentally with many stress related illnesses, until I had to give up work. Not masking now is much easier.
 

Shamar

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
When I try to pass as NT in public or in social situations, it is very exhausting and tiring. Please reply to this thread.

1. Have you ever tried to mask your autism or pass as NT in public or in social situations?

2. Why did you try to pass as NT?

3. What was your experience like, and was it exhausting or tiring?
Before I was diagnosed, I was always trying to fit, socialize, be normal. This was abit difficult, since I can't socialize and I didn't know what "normal" was. I just tried to imitate people around me without understanding.
Obviously, I did it to try and fit in. And was horribly unsuccessful at it.
The experience was, obviously, disappointing. I wouldn't call it tiring so much as draining and depressing. Being an anthrophobe in this situation also has its drawbacks. Suddenly finding myself in the middle of a crowd was like being a claustrophobe suddenly locked in a dark closet.
 

D'Andre

Well-Known Member
I am not trying to pass as NT, but in my generation everyone assumed we were all NT so those of us who weren't just automatically learned to mask, or else didn't or couldn't and maybe got diagnosed. But I don't think many were diagnosed compared to nowadays.

I guess I didn't realise that's why I was always tired or needed every evening to be alone time. I would go to the arts cinema alone and think I had socialised... well there were people there...

But also, all of us are different and have different challenges. I wish we needn't mask. Not sure how realistic that is yet, though, if we want to work or mix with others at work or events. I tend to go for semi structured mixing, like volunteering. Mostly I like to spend time alone though. Or with my partner. Not speaking much usually...
Yeah times have changed. I was afraid to speak up on the possibility of ASD. My late mom would have supported me, she used to describe some of my behaviors as autistic.
 

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