Many people with autism and ADHD report using “masking” or “camouflage” in their lives. This is where people hide certain traits and replace them with neurotypical traits to avoid being perceived as a neuro-minority.
This may include changes such as:
tone of voice
speech patterns, and
People with autism make these changes in an attempt to conform to prevailing social norms.
ADHD masking has not yet been explored in research, although some ADHD patients have also adopted this concept.
Masking and camouflage can cause immense stress to neurominorities. And they differ from the adjustments that neurotypical people make in response to social cues. , are different because they are used to avoid negative consequences.
Here’s what you should know:
How does masking and camouflage affect neurominorities?
Masking and camouflage are linked below.
Still, many people with autism report having trouble getting jobs or qualifications, or having problems with social exclusion without any cover-up or camouflage. , and may even be at risk of being verbally or physically assaulted.
The results of unmasking can be very large. Disclosing your autism risks rejecting your permanent residency application and may lead to unwanted “treatment.” This can even lead to police violence, especially for autistic people of color.
reduce the need for masking and camouflage
In my late 20s, I found out I had autism. Suddenly things started to make sense. From eighth grade failure to chronic unemployment to social isolation, I realized my disability was causing these bad consequences.
This medical model understanding assumes that disability is primarily caused by a medical disorder of the body or brain. People with autism or her ADHD face social life, employment, or schooling because their brains aren’t working the way they ‘should’.
The neurodiversity movement is asking us to rethink this. It challenges us to ask how society can be changed to better include neurominorities (rather than viewing neurominorities as problems that need to be “fixed”).
Twitter’s #TakeTheMaskOff campaign, driven by neurodiversity activists, aims to tackle anti-autism discrimination and promote social acceptance and inclusion.
So how can society prevent deterioration of neurominority well-being, social, educational, and employment outcomes? And what does this have to do with masking?
According to my research, the first step is to identify how neurotypic privilege (the cultural and social dominance of neurotypic norms) drives masking and camouflage.
My research on autism is inspired by the work of activists who paved the way for nondiscrimination policies. My recent paper advocates an intersecting approach to examining why people with autism use masking and camouflage and what changes can be made to reduce their need. .
Intersection identifies how forces such as colonialism, racism, and patriarchy help reinforce systemic inequalities.
For example, are neurominority women in male-dominated environments under special pressure to mask to “pass” as neurotype? May face unique risks when removing a mask in a way that most white people do not?
Perhaps one day we will see legal protection for visible neurominorities who cannot or choose not to wear masks or camouflage.
In the meantime, you can support neurodiversity inclusion by:
Schools, workplaces, social circles, and research institutes need to address neurotypical privilege. They need to empower a diverse neuro-minority his leader and support them to drive systemic cultural change.
In this way, we can remove barriers to mask removal and improve the lives of neurominorities at work, in schools, and in wider society.
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