The Hidden Struggle: Masking ASD Symptoms in Adult Women
This post was written by Shaila Alvarez, M.S.
Masking refers to camouflaging or concealing autistic traits to fit societal norms and expectations. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects individuals regardless of gender. However, it has been underdiagnosed in women, mainly due to “masking.”
Masking is a coping mechanism that some individuals with autism, especially women, develop to navigate their environment. For example, this can include imitating social behaviors, mimicking facial expressions, and suppressing autistic traits to “blend in” with others. Although it can help women with ASD adapt to their environments, it frequently comes at a cost.
1. Mental Burnout: Masking can be mentally exhausting. Constantly monitoring and modifying one’s behavior can lead to burnout, anxiety, and stress.
2. Delayed Diagnosis: Masking can create challenges for women to receive an accurate ASD diagnosis. They may seem to be coping well on the surface, masking their difficulties and, as a result, go unnoticed.
3. Missed Support and Understanding: When women mask their ASD symptoms, they miss out on the support and understanding they need. This can impact their mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.
Enjoying this article? Check out other articles on our blog HERE!
Breaking the Mask
1. Self-Acceptance: Encouraging self-acceptance and embracing one’s neurodiversity.
2. Seeking Diagnosis: If you suspect you have ASD, seeking a professional diagnosis can provide clarity and access to support services.
3. Building a Support Network: Connecting with others with ASD or joining support groups can help women share their experiences and learn coping strategies.
4. Educating Others: It is essential to promote awareness about masking in women with ASD to foster understanding, empathy, and compassion.