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Moment you realised how important masking was?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by leehart, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. leehart

    leehart Well-Known Member

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    Hi all, I have been reflecting a lot recently on masking and when that became something key for me. As a young child I didnt mask, I lived in my own mind and didnt worry too much about others.

    I can remember the moment that changed, which might seem a daft one, especially as I have an ACE score of 10 for childhood! It was when I was about 7 maybe and had a childhood girlfriend (all very innocent stuff) her step-dad walking in when I had my arm around her and FREAKED out, threw me out the house calling me all sorts of names. I can't recall any other time I was so unsettled and after that I began to withdraw into myself and be far more careful what I did and how others might perceive it.

    As I have been thinking about things I realise this is perhaps one of the key moments for me, it taught me others were dangerous, unpredictable and I had to be very careful in what I did. I learnt to blend, to read others really well (I study others and I am pretty good at reading them in the end).

    Just curious if others have a moment that really stands out - though I fully realise that some might not want to share these!
     
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  2. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    Seeing my brother and a kid in my class who are both on the spectrum getting bullied at school. Also, the moments when I thought I was acting normal, but other's felt the need to tell me I was being abnormal.

    When you witness enough situations that make you feel uncomfortable, you begin to adapt behaviour to reduce friction and potential future trauma.

    Ed
     
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  3. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Interesting question. In my own case, I'd have to say "never".

    First off, I didn't have a clue that I could be on the spectrum of autism until my mid-fifties. Yet on some subconscious level I always knew I was "socially different" all the way back to grade school. So for me, masking my traits and behaviors was accomplished on a level of instinct rather than rationale. Self-preservation without giving it any real thought I suppose.

    I just knew that if I didn't attempt to "blend in", that it would cost me. So I acted accordingly, without really understanding all the hows and whys. Such instincts have served me well.
     
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  4. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    My Mother's closest friend was a special education teacher. She visited one afternoon to ask my Mother to supervise her class for a week while she took a trip to a family funeral. On the other side of the country. My Mother was not a teacher, but had qualified to be. She became a substitute for a week.

    After the second day, she asked me to come to the class as her assistant and teach art. I had just completed the high school year, and was waiting for the final exam period to finish as I had completed my exams.

    The class was a mess, without structure, students of all ages in the same classroom. Students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, downs syndrome, no one seemed to be learning anything. My Mother worked with the alphabet, basic arithmetic and reading stories aloud. Many of the students just sat there, taking little in.

    On breaks like recess the teacher played records of catechism teachings. As the students talked or threw things at one another. Art class was painting sploches on butcher paper or using your fingers to string beads. I recognized some of the behaviour, the rocking, the silences, what are now known as stims. I realized at that point, that I should never show that kind of behaviour or I would end up in a class like that, learning nothing, sidelined.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  5. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Born in '57 I grew up in the 60's. I always assumed all families were basically like mine, but now I know better - some way better, some way worse. But growing up in my family meant everyone had to act normal. We didn't get punished for stealing, getting in trouble at school, smoking and the things youd expect to get punished for. My parents didn't even care what kind of grades we got in school. The things we got in trouble for was all behavior - if we 'sang through our nose', asked if a cousin to spend the night in front of them, wearing dresses too short (which I didn't but my sister did), made noises during church or if my dad seen us talking to a boy. We were never allowed to cry, not even allow eyes to water up. We were told how to laugh. If we ever did that ee ah laugh, watch out. We lived in Ohio but made frequent trips to Virginia to see family and if we came back talking with a southern accent like our cousins we got in trouble. So our behavior was molded from infancy up. So the meltdowns were controlled. So even as an adult, if I was hurting I knew how to hold it in until I got home and could go in the bathroom or somewhere private to cry.

    I also just remember always watching my older siblings (I was the youngest) and things they got in trouble for I avoided.

    I just always thought it was strange though - I rebelled in my teens and never got in trouble - when I got caught skipping school my mom took me shopping. When I was caught smoking pot, nothing happened. When I was caught stealing albums, nothing happened. When I was caught smoking cigarettes, they just handed me the cigarettes back. Anyhow - that's beside the point.
     
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  6. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't think I've ever masked as such, but then I've only been formally diagnosed this year, in my late 40's

    I have had several people in the past few months tell me that they thought I was Asperger's, without prior knowledge, probably assuming that I knew for sure, and having some knowledge of Aspie behaviours...

    Maybe that means I'm not masking? Mine is a milder form (HFA 1) so I generally fit in for the most part, and (look at my signature) quite proud to say that I'm eccentric and that doesn't bother me...
     
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  7. lolcatal

    lolcatal Well-Known Member

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    The most traumatic things I remember were my father telling me not to cry so loud, and my mother telling me she would never trust me again because I told my aunt what my mother had told me. My mother hadn’t even told me it was a secret. Both my aunt and my mother ended up screaming.

    I also remember being made fun of by other kids for enjoying my special interest in the “privacy” of my backyard. I guess they were spying on me through slats in the fence.

    I mask everything about myself now.
     
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  8. Finder

    Finder Active Member

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    I learnt to mask instinctively for protection. As folks stated above, it was only after my diagnosis late in life did I recognize the behavior. What is interesting is that I can now link my behavior/masking to specific traits. It is kind of like finding a key to why I do certain things. My diagnosis has also shown where my mask has not been so good--I may have learnt instinctively, but it was through trial and error with lots of error.
     
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  9. leehart

    leehart Well-Known Member

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    I have only recently realised I’m highly likely to be autistic. It was via the dx of my child and as I learnt more.

    Masking fascinates me because it’s something I’ve ALWAYS been aware I do as an adult and at times felt guilt because it felt...inauthentic...in the end a sense of loss because I feel I don’t actually know ‘who’ I am because everything is a performance and I couldn’t/wouldn’t drop that mask as it gives me a sense of (legitimate!) safety.

    So many of the experiences shared here are similar to mines, seemingly minor moments burned onto our minds when we realise the world isn’t all that safe and we must blend in for any sense of safety.
     
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  10. dragonfire42

    dragonfire42 Box of leftovers in the back of the fridge

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    I can’t “mask” or “blend in” to save my life. Instead, I’ve learned how to basically be invisible, semi-intentionally, and now do it by default, without even trying. I don’t really have any moments, it was just a cumulative sum of experiences over the course of my life. Basically I just stay quiet and keep to myself and it’s as if I’m not even there.
     
  11. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm fairly invisible, and my invisibility has increased as I ve got older. I do prefer to be unnoticed generally. Except by the people I like to spend time with.

    I don't think any one thing stands out, though I can recall the disappointment that I felt on starting school. I thought it was going to be great, but it was just, school. That was the start of having to expect less I suppose.
     
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  12. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member

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    In hindsight, school.

    Life before school was simple in comparison.

    The greater number of strangers (other children, teachers, nuns, priests) I spent time alongside,
    the less I understood and the more apparent my own differences became.
     
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  13. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    probably not till late twenties, I thought I was just unusual and the comments I got were people being nasty.

    I think I realised unpredictability scares people, the loose cannon thing, so I tried to behave more predictably normal-like after that, with varying degrees of success. I'm not the world's greatest social actor.
     
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