Autistic people mask because people do not accept our traits. We need to let go of the burden of camouflaging our autistic traits to make people feel comfortable because it’s not our job to do so.
Autistic people are not broken versions of so-called normal people. Please stop telling autistic people to be themselves and then try to make them more normal by society's terms. It is not helpful to tell autistic people to apply neurotypical strategies to everything, or work in time frames as neurotypicals do to process emotions and information. We do not deal with these in the same way, so trying to force this will only create separation.
When autistic people express the issues they are experiencing and then they are dismissed with comments like, we all have to deal with that, it fails to see how autistic people do not understand emotions the same, and feel them in intense ways they may not be able to express in words.
Most neurotypical behaviour in autistic people is masking thus we are only acting for the benefit of non autistic people. We may pretend to be the accepted normal, but it doesn't' make any sense to us and only drains us of our energy.
Just because we can brush our own teeth, speak and work doesn’t mean we don’t have needs that are not typical of neurotypical people. When you call us high functioning it dismisses the fact that we experience difficulties in day to day life. I do not even like reframing words like low needs, because it may still indicate that we don’t need much support. Many of us do need more support than we let on. We often don’t let that be known for fear of more judgement, so we mask to appear to others as high functioning when we are not, and why our needs often go under the radar.
Giving us labels like high functioning only creates an anxiety in us to fulfil those labels, so in that we then give others permission to keep labelling us high functioning. One of the only ways we can show people we are not okay or need support, is to stop pretending we don’t as it then becomes a vicious circle.
Even though I have masked for most of my life, I have followed my heart, so despite all the masking I did live life on my own term for the most part, and that came with many consequences of themselves. It was said to me recently that my autistic traits have been worsened since discovering I am autistic. I have not become worse, but rather I don’t mask much anymore. The consequences of not masking are not as bad as pretending to be normal by society's rules. Autism is a neurological condition, and is there from birth and cannot be changed.
Every time I forgot to mask, someone would say, you’re being a bit weird, so it felt like pressure to mask again. As we move into our senior years, we tend to let go a lot about what other people think anyway as we have become more comfortable in who we are. However, discovering being autistic threw a spanner in the works that has left me with many emotions too resolve and I am not there yet. For further reading, my story can be read on my about page on this website.