Describing Masking 🎭

'What is masking' written in black with six hand drawn images below with text describing each written in capitals underneath:
- Hiding your feelings and mood: A blonde girl with a teal jumper is covering her face so you cannot see it
- Imitating facial expressions: A girl with black curly hair and a pink jumper is holding a handheld beauty mirror up practicing facial expressions in the mirror
- Trying not to go non verbal: greyed out volume sign with a red 'x' over it shows no sound and a pair of blue over ear noise cancelling ear defenders next to it.
- Bottling up anxiety, thoughts and stims: lots of coloured water in water bottles jiggling around representing bottled up emotions!
- Trying to focus on conversations but zoning out: Colourful speech bubbles filled with text saying 'are you listening, no thanks, got to go and sorry'
-Trying to act 'normal': Boy with a bright mustard top on with a mask on his face
Text under: This can lead to autistic burnout + sensory hangover

Hello everyone I’m here again to share another drawing, this time on masking 🎭.  I did one a while back when I first started out sharing my illustrations here on Instagram. I don’t love how it looks so decided to redraw it!

So what actually is masking? 

Masking involves trying to hide being autistic so others will accept us. It’s also referred to as camouflaging. This means we act in ways that other people will think we are ‘normal’ and to try and be accepted socially. My drawing includes a few examples of trying to mask.

Over the course of my life I feel I have perfected the art of masking (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). I am extremely good at with-holding my feelings and emotions, bottling them up until I get home. I would cry when I had to go to primary school each morning. Then speed forward a bit in time and I’d come home from secondary school each day very tearful. I even used to cry up in the SENCOs (special needs support) room at break and lunch times because secondary school is quite literally THE most overwhelming place I have ever had to cope in 👀.

But slowly through sixth form and university I began to build up a resilience to the world and although I still get overwhelmed I can always come home, have a bit of a sensory meltdown (and a good cry) then move on with things. 

Socialising will always be hard for me and I think I will always cope with the world like this. But that’s okay. I have to actively remind myself that ‘normal’ isn’t real. And I think you should too. Masking is an autistic and sensory way of coping with the everyday and just trying to get by. Now that is brave. To go out in the world and just exist is a huge thing.

Do you have any tips related to masking? Feel free to share below ☺️

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