Describing ‘The Mask’ (Autism)

Other Aspies/Autistics use the phrases ‘The Mask’ or ‘Masking’ – I never really thought of what I do that way but it is a good description.

I think of a facade or frontage. It’s not the ‘structure’ of me, it’s what someone from outside sees.

There’s nothing to show the internal contents, nothing to show what’s inside. Periodically it changes and gets rebuilt or a lick of paint. 

Few enter and fewer still know what’s inside. 

My ‘facade’ or ‘front’ is always there. Never taken off ‘the building’. It’s what others see or get to see.

Psychologically, a defence. A first contact measure. It’s not that noticeable, it’s not that obvious to the outside. 

To others and to strangers. To those I know as colleagues or are acquainted with me, it’s fairly grim, steady, quiet but usually friendly, happy to talk and listen. Some days it’s a bit more quiet and steely, a lot of the time recently it’s just quiet. 

My ‘Blues’ in terms of my coloured lenses do make more of a barrier and as I’ve said recently I’ve taken a step back from people when I realised the issues with facial recognition and how I may come across. 

I’ll acknowledge people if I can and if I’m talked to, I’ll respond and try some small talk or easy topic.

(I stayed away from using the word ‘friends’ earlier. I don’t consider I have any in a conventional sense)

So, I do ‘the mask’ and masking in my own way. 

Mainly a defensive response of a bullied child that’s been refined, added to, overhauled and rebuilt from time to time. 

It’s in use daily, in person and online.(my Twitter followers get additional humour and wit that I rarely show in person)

The inside is vulnerable, sensitive, quite literal and anxious.

The facade isn’t too interested in you, doesn’t really bother with what you say or do unless you’re an annoyance and will pretty much look to blend in quietly into a room or situation. 

The facade doesn’t rush to be friends or rush to know anything about you. It won’t question you or want to emphasise with you, it won’t make a fool of itself.

Polite to strangers, it says thanks to conductors, bus drivers and shop assistants. It doesn’t drink and won’t make a scene in any situation.

My hope is that my condition (Aspergers) isn’t obvious and that I do pass as ‘normal’ to a large extent without too many tells. I have thought of how to roll with my diagnosis and ‘be autistic’, I think I’m ‘too conditioned’ to do so and too much in a habit to really change at my age as a late diagnosed person who works and is a parent. 

So, that’s what ‘the mask’ is for me, it’s part of me, how I am and how I act.


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