Masking and Autism.

By Kieran Rose. Illustrations by @autistically

Masking is a part of everyday life for most Autistic people and the reasons we mask and the consequences it has on our wellbeing are huge. Hopefully one day every Neurodivergent person can unmask and be their true selves but until then it is important to understand it a bit better and make some changes to help.

Note 1 from slide 2: definition from Kieran Rose aka the Autistic Advocate (

7 slides with a pale pink background

Slide 1 – title “Masking” in a multicoloured circle

Slide 2 – multiple smiling aubergine/eggplant characters with the potato character disguised as an aubergine/eggplant with text that reads: “Masking equals projecting an acceptable version of one’s self as an unconscious response to trauma”

Slide 3 – title “Masking can include:” with 8 multicoloured circles with text in reading: “Suppressing stims”, “Copying social cues”, “Refraining from talking about interests”, “Engaging in small talk”, “Forcing eye contact”, “Faking facial expressions”, “Forcing yourself to use mouth words”, “Hiding sensory discomfort”.

Slide 4 – title “Masking has negative impacts on Neurodivergent people as it:” with bullet points below reading: “is draining and often leads to burnout”, “can chip away at your identity and make you lose who you truly are”, “can take years for someone to unmask”, “can make you feel like you aren’t good enough as you are”.

Slide 5 – title “Why don’t people just not mask?” with text: “If Autistic and Neurodivergent people could be themselves in society and situations without judgement or fear of bullying/harassment or without exclusion for being who they are then we would…Unfortunately, the world isn’t as accepting and understanding as we want it to be and so we have no choice sometimes but to mask just to simply live life”.

Slide 6 – title “What helps?” with text: “There is no simple solution. The discrimination and fear of judgement that can cause masking sadly won’t stop any time soon. Instead, the best thing to do is surround yourself with people you can be yourself around to remove the need to mask. Know that you are amazing as you are and that you don’t need to change or hide who you are for anyone”.

Slide 7 – title “What helps?” with text: “If you know someone who is Autistic or Neurodivergent then the best thing you can do is to try to make the environment and people around you more accepting and understanding so that the Autistic individual can feel safe to unmask. Embrace the differences rather than trying to suppress them. For years Autistic people put in so much energy to adapt to ‘fit in’, now it’s time to help make the world more open-minded so we can be ourselves”.

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