Masking is the term used for when people on the Autism Spectrum try to hide their traits and quirks and unfortunately in this day and age, masking is very common. I have had a load of personal experiences myself when I’ve had to mask my traits and it was mainly for the benefit of other people. When I’m trying to make a good first impression on somebody, be it going for an interview or making a new friend, I don’t tend to reveal my true colours until later on if I am comfortable with it. However, there have also been times when I haven’t been able to unmask. Some small examples of this are going up to a counter in a shop or scheduling an appointment over the phone. But there are way bigger examples too. There have been situations where I had to mask my traits and everything going on with me for the benefit of other people. And it sucks. Parties are my main fear. Mainly because of balloons and party poppers as they (as well as other loud and sudden noises) are some of my main triggers. They send my brain into overload and a meltdown almost immediately occurs afterwards. However, if I am in a public place or at a get together of some sort, I tend to find somewhere private and just let it all out there before going back out into the public and acting as if there’s nothing wrong. There are many reasons why people on the Spectrum mask their true selves. They don’t want to come across a certain way to others, they might not want to ruin things on others or they just feel embarrassed. I’ve done it for all these reasons and more. I know what you’re probably thinking. “Why mask it? It’s ok to be yourself!” But did you know that sometimes, according to other people, it’s not?
When people on the Spectrum unmask and unveil their true selves, some people do get very uncomfortable by it. I also know people on the Spectrum who have unmasked in front of family only to be put down by their own family members, the ones that are meant to be there, be their support and help them when needed. It’s sad because there are families and friends out there that expect their other family and friends to be perfect and they are shouted down when they’re not.
Masking is even harder on your bad days. There are actually people on the Spectrum who haven’t been given a proper, written diagnosis, such as myself, so they can’t excuse themselves in the workplace or in school so masking once again has to come into play. It honestly breaks my heart that masking is a thing in today’s world. We’re all beautiful in our own special ways and it feels like we’re being expected to hide our true beauty because it’s not the idea of beauty that others have.
To sum it up, masking is hiding who we truly are for the satisfaction of others. And it’s not okay. So, the moral of the story is this- never make someone feel like they have to mask themselves. If a person on the Spectrum feels comfortable enough to unmask in front of you, then you my friend are doing something right and if you accept it and are comfortable with it then you my friend are a rare treasure and there needs to be more of you around. I’ve had lots of trust issues over the years and I think when someone trusts you enough to open up, it’s a very special thing.
Always remember to be supportive and respectful. Maybe then, we can reduce the amount of people masking their true selves.

Me and my dog Pugsy “masking” each other!

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