For those of us on the high-functioning side, we’re sometimes accused of faking our autism.
But more often than not, we’re having to fake being “normal.”
That’s where ‘masking’ comes in.
Masking is where autistic people drastically adjust their behaviors to mask their symptoms. Some of us do it more than others.
Things like finding a spot on someone’s face to stare at to approximate eye-contact. A painstakingly-rehearsed repertoire of small-talk to give off the appearance of social comfort. Mimicking normal behaviors. Finding places to sit or otherwise be occupied so we’re not caught pacing, flapping, or otherwise repetitively twitching while we talk. Reaching out to others out of the blue. Doing research on people we’ll be meeting so we can find ways to get them talking so we don’t have to.
Why? To pass as normal. To retreat from awkwardness. To fit in. To be accepted.
It’s exhausting. I don’t know how you neurotypical people do it.
But I know how I do it. I’ve needed a mask, something that goes beyond Hunter.
My mask is practically Batman (or Daredevil, as befits the image). It’s become its own thing nowadays.
You may have seen it.
It’s why some people think I’m a great raconteur, an entertainer, and (at work anyway) a well-connected, gregarious individual who can light up a room and spin the conversational wheel of fortune around the table.
But that is itself a mask, an emblem, a symbol.
My mask has a name: H2.
. . . to be continued