[Raw & Uncut] Autistic Women Reveal the Truth About High Masking - FULL INTERVIEW

[Raw & Uncut] Autistic Women Reveal the Truth About High Masking – FULL INTERVIEW

Gender roles and societal expectations can create different pressures for individuals. These roles and expectations construct how people are expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct themselves based on their assigned gender. These social factors make it difficult to diagnose autism in women, especially with contemporary research that suggests women are better at “masking” than men. This video features women who shared their various takes and experiences with high masking, whether or not they were consciously doing it, the costs that come with high masking, and how all of these had affected their personal and professional relationships.

0:00 Introductions
6:37 What is Masking For You?
6:44 Liz’s Masking Experience
9:39 Hannah’s Masking Experience
12:28 Shannon’s Masking Experience
17:39 Angie’s Masking Experience
22:49 Claudia’s Masking Experience
29:57 How Does Being Woman Affect Masking?
30:17 Liz’s Take
31:56 Shannon’s Take
36:16 Hannah’s Take
38:08 Claudia’s Take
40:46 Angie’s Take
43:06 Hannah’s Take
44:39 Shannon’s Take
46:00 The Self-Discovery Process After Masking
46:38 Liz’s Experience
47:48 Hannah’s Experience
51:01 Angie’s Experience
52:28 Shannon’s Experience
1:01:00 Claudia’s Experience
1:04:20 What would you wish the world to know?
1:04:25 Liz’s Take
1:05:32 Claudia’s Take
1:06:56 Hannah’s Take
1:08:51 Shannon’s Take
1:12:02 Angie’s Take
1:13:31 End Remarks


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40 thoughts on “[Raw & Uncut] Autistic Women Reveal the Truth About High Masking – FULL INTERVIEW”

  1. Very interesting discussion. I have been masking to the point that I do not always know who I am and what I think, what I feel even. This has the effect that I allow some people speaking about me, defining wrongly my person, without being able to deny it, because a part of myself wonders whether this can be true. Like people saying: "you are a bad person because….", and wondering if this can be true, if my feeling of my being a good person could be a lie that I make to myself. I wished my English was better to explain it better, how devastating these life experiences are.

  2. An impressive and extraordinary video. Thank you. I have Asperger's Syndrome and I have puzzled about who else in my family is showing pronounced traits, because my family seem to deny any autistic traits or else mockingly label each other. There is no one else in my family who has full A.S. and in fact one of the younger members has found their autistic 'traces' help him in his field. One of your guests explained that they have to mask within their family too, which brought home to me that my sub-isolation within my own family is not unusual. All of your guests are examples of the courage of people on the spectrum, and it is something that is not very often acknowledged.

  3. The lady at 9:00 minutes is describing exactly what happened to me during COVID, but I would like to get my diagnosis so I can be relieved from a lifetime of hell and being demoralized by getting into graduate programs , jobs etc and then getting kicked out because I can’t be or learn the same as others. I don’t know how to advocate for self and definitely didn’t then. I just felt guilty and full of shame…. We paid a HUgh price.

  4. The masking question / concept brought me great distress…getting diagnosed at 49 I started to explore and for a long time felt lost, who am I ? Why have I lied to myself ? Am I lying to myself? It felt like I went through a process of dissecting my whole life. I'm still trying to put the pieces back in some coherent way that makes sense to me? Maybe it's a lifelong process! A very eye opening webinar thankyou to all participants.

  5. Thank you!!!! This is such an incredibly helpful, useful, validating, informative resource. I have never felt so …. just like everyone, in my life! So many experiences I've written down in my years of questioning, second guessing, and now exploring my experiences in a new, more suitable lens, were spoken here so eloquently. Thank you to all the panelists and to Paul for organizing and beautifully moderating this event.

  6. I find myself relating, crying, and wishing I could tell my story, as a 62 year old woman, out loud and uninterrupted. Thanks for providing this platform, Paul. 💖

  7. as a very rough generalisation, I think autistic women are similar to non-autistic men, and autistic men are similar to non-autistic robots, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong

  8. An eye opener for me, in this video, was, recognizing that I watch/listen to people around me when they say they dislike a behaviour in a third person and I make a mental note to not do that. So my masking is mostly (I think) about my fear of being abandoned. This behaviour has eroded my inner self to the point of being almost like a blank slate for others project themselves. They get mirrored and feel stronger after being with me, but I never get that from them.

  9. This was great to watch, much appreciated! I wonder if we could invite all of these ladies back to allow for more questions and possibly collaborate with a therapist or another lady who has known for a long time and had a full diagnosis. This stream was a great effort! We just want more, please

  10. oh, I relate to that — masking around negative role models.
    I also started early… I was maybe three when I asked my mother the purpose of eye contact and decided to learn how to make it in a way which allowed people to feel heard.
    But the mask wasn't separate. I incorporated the mask as "rules" and would apply them 24/7 or whenever I was in a particular context. I wasn't very successful, as a result, because (a) I was never myself, not even when I was asleep, because I was always meeting the perceived expectations of others and (b) my contexts were too broad, and I was unable to discern how to narrow the contexts because I needed to have some of the factors explicitly explained and one of the first things I internalized was that asking clarifying questions or asking for someone to accompany me into a social situation and debrief afterwards were not acceptable. I learned a lot of lessons no one meant to teach me, and that made it impossible for me to learn what they WERE trying to teach.

  11. also, on gender, female socialization often involves a lot more direct/explicit instruction in social roles and also much, much, higher expectations that the female take on responsibility for the feelings and reactions of all parties in a social interaction, so we tend to both have to learn to mask for survival where those socialized male may not have to or may have to learn less to survive, and also we are taught younger and more explicitly that it is our JOB to do masking tasks.

  12. on the topic of leveraging femininity:
    I think a great deal of the reason it took longer for women to be recognized as autistic is because we had more generations during which it was widely accepted and even expected for us to stay in the home — where we could laregely structure our lives the way we needed and had interaction with a limited circle of people for most of our hours. I come from generations of almost-certainly-neurodivergent, quirky, overcontrolled/overcontrolling women who remained competent by structuring their households and social engagements, and generations of men who succeeded at academic and/or highly solitary professions. I was taught, from the cradle, how to manage a household, host a party (when you set up the structure of the event, there are fewer unexpected and poorly defined elements to be threatening), and how to do school. Both my family and society taught me how to be a successful student and manage a household. Then I was shoved into the workforce — and I received essentially NO explicit education on navigating professional life, learning new skills as an adult, and problem solving. Also, women (at least white women) are allowed to express a wide range of emotions, but men (particularly white men) are primarily allowed to experience anger and happiness, but nothing else.

  13. I self diagnosed a few years ago but I was told by my church that I had to be diagnosed by a professional before I could be listened to. The questions I used to ask at church were ones they didn't want to talk about. I could never work out why. My Vicar secretly diagnosed me as having a dangerous personality type and got me into a lot of problems. My masking couldn't be maintained and I couldn't cope with the fears associated with the pretending that seems to happen in church culture. I got the silent treatment. It's given me time to look at what being autistic is about. I'm now aiming to stop the way our particular church environment became so harmful to me because I am autistic. Prejudice and discrimination is cruel. They honestly think what they did to me was necessary. I can laugh now, but it's great to have people writing testimonials against me at how difficult they've found my behaviour. My Vicar knew how to make my difficulties worse. I think the church saw me at my meltdown worst. I have to trust and have faith that I can show them what an autistic worldview is like.

    I remain convinced it's an enabling thing to be an autistic Christian. The amount of curiosity I have has opened up a lot wonderful knowledge and growing Christian faith. Seems sometimes that typical thinkers don't mind not knowing much at all.

    I'm 60 now. After being told I was evil, it's never felt so good to be me.

  14. I can relate to everything. Hating Girly stuff, not being able to advocate for myself in conflicts, putting on the smile, having to skip the networking/socialising and therefore limiting my career chances, not being able to be smart because it's interpreted as arrogant and blunt, and many more. Thanks for this talk!

  15. Thank you so very much for your work. Your videos are saving lives!!! I am a woman aged 62, self diagnosed with AuDHD a year ago. I can now see the patterns in my family as well. I am in the process of doing "parts work" to help evaluate my inner world to stop the internal battles between the parts of me that disagree. Alcohol stopped working as a masking aid for me years ago and since being sober I struggle with finding balance. Autism medications are not an option for me so I am trying to manage with diet, cannabis and exercise. Every time I watch a video about women with Autism it is like medication for me. I feel well for hours afterward. It would be FANTASTIC if an online Zoom meeting or some forum for older women with Autism could be developed. Like an AA meeting, we could share our experiences, tips and hope in a safe environment where everyone is learning from each other. Being around people with Autism online in the comfort of my home is the greatest mental health practice I have ever experienced.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this conversation. It is so reaffirming hearing other women explaining the stuff that goes on in my head so clearly.
    Such a helpful video 🙏🏼

  17. and…. thank you for recognizing not-yet-diagnosed people. In the US today it is virtually impossible to get scheduled for a diagnosis if you are over 50. Some insurance companies will not cover it unless "accommodations" are needed for school or employment.

  18. Amazing panel. I have recently self-diagnosed. Everyone on the panel seems to reflect my own experiences. It's revelatory that there are other people like me. I need to find some sort of local autism society. Apparently that's where all the cool girls are 🥰

  19. The lady from Ohio who would you recommend to get officially diagnosed???? I was diagnosed with ADHD and Tics at 10. During that time early 2000’s you had either one or the other. I really do believe I have both too. I’ve just started on this Journey this past fall because of my son people keep saying he has autistic, red flags. My family keep saying he dose the cute little quirky stuff you used to do. I heavily mask my symptoms.

  20. This is extraordinary! I'm male, and autistic, yet I identify with so much of what these women describe. I too spent years trying to figure out what was "wrong" with me. I recieved so many diagnosises my head spun. Generalized anxiety. Depression. ADHD. Panic disorder. Agoraphobia. Refractory major depressive disorder. PTSD.

    Oh, and I was tested and identifed as "Mentally gifted" (very high IQ) as a child. Talk about masking! My repeated failures in social, academic, and employment settings were attributed by my mother to "Boredom, lazyness or simply poor character. I was shamed by her and others constantly for being "brilliant but unmotivated" unless I was "interested in something." When "interested in something" I quickly became an expert in it, which created all sorts of social problems, and ultimately burn-outs, shut-downs, and withdrwal, depression, extreme anxiety, shame, withdrawl, and even suicidal thoughts.

    I took an online autism assessment about 10 years ago, and almost maxed it out, yet dismissed it, because back then, autism was "rare and disabling" A couple of years ago my girlfreind, who I suspect is also autistc suggested by way of love and acceptance that autism was central to my personality. It took over a year, but ultimately I was formally diagnosed by an autism diagnostic specialist earlier this year.

    Wow – what a revelation. It all makes sense now.

    The final thing I'll say to anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, and especially suicidal thoughts is that ketamine infusion theraphy stopped all of that for me in 2018. Stopped it almost immediately – within hours. One treatment – though most people need a series of them. It was an absolute miracle in my case, and there's mounting evidence that autistic people in particular benefit enormously from the treatment. Dont take my word for it. Google "ketamine infusion therapy for depression" and dive in to the massive amount of research supporting it. If you are suffering, I urge you to consider it. It's safe and it's the most effective treatment for anxiety, depression and sucidal thinking ever discovered.

    Huge thanks to Paul and the poarticipants here for sharing their experiences and insights into how autism and masking affect them. You are making a critical difference for people like me, who thought we were alone. Keep it up!

  21. Hi to you all, Thank you all for sharing this as it is so interesting and is helpful for my own understanding of masking. I was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD at age 37 and I am currently 39. I am trying to work on myself but feel burnt out constantly. I feel unable to get out of a hyperfocused state which results in fawning in a state of panic when trying to communicate with others. I often find myself struggling with rejection sensitivity dysphoria which is hard work. I also can't journal but collect notebook's! I also feel like it could be a security/unsafe feeling and my perfectionism doesn't help. I'm exhausted but loving hearing others experiences and I relate to so much. I would love friends from my tribe as I find going out difficult and I don't communicate well so I am quite isolated. I can't advocate for myself which scares me as I am an only child. My dad is my carer but won't be here forever and I feel I will be so alone with my physical issues etc when he passes. I have no other family so I am terrified of coping on my own. Talking to Russians etc sounds fantastic as I love learning about different cultures but I would be afraid to due to communication problems (I would defo appreciate hearing about it). I often ramble (you may have noticed!) Thanks again for sharing your experiences x

  22. One thing as an autistic female I find particularly uncomfortable is the performance of 'femininity'. For a few years, I heavily questioned whether I had gender dysphoria and perhaps was trans because I felt so wrong and alien with being 'a woman'. I feel kinda squirmy even being called that way. However, I finally realized that I am fine with being biologically 'female', it's with the behaviours, appearances and presentation of 'femininity' that I have a problem. It feels like a complicated fancy costume to me, not natural. I feel like an animal, basically we don't look at a tiger or wolf and think "oh it's a GIRL or BOY", we think "it's a WOLF".. I wish I could just be seen as a person, a Me, without thinking about what's 'feminine' or not.

  23. Thank you for this! So nice to see people like me represented. However, it would be great to also include people of color in this conversation to hear their perspectives and have that representation as well.

  24. I masked for years, not knowing why I was exhausted, anxious, antisocial, agoraphobic etc. I felt that I was a failure at life really, unable to leave the house sometimes and generally overwhelmed by it all. I also had a huge complex about coming across as negative and depressed. I forced myself to handle multiple jobs, stressful situations etc. I wish I had been kinder to myself now. I was wondering whether the majority of autistic people tend to avoid alcohol?

  25. Something that came up here was so good for healing and I would love to have see an autism group that discusses bad therapists! Autism is traumatic in a neurotypical world and therapists that impress what our experience is and gaslight us by saying we don't know due to our autism is so wrong but also those who gaslight us and say they don't believe we are autistic when they fully disclosed they don't know a lot about autism in adults..and then further the therapists who gaslight trauma and say they don't believe the depth of trauma autistic adults have or can experience

  26. Wow that part about the mask being internal facing as well really made sense to me. Some things u explain away as nothing or just a quick and some things u don't even think of that it might b a sign of something like struggling to make friends or join in with other people.

  27. Thank you SO MUCH! I grew up being told that I was just overly sensitive and highly intelligent and I got into so many toxic relationships because no one taught me how to avoid them (and my family’s treatment of me growing up primed me for them.) My children had all been diagnosed with ADHD or autism before I ever even considered it, and I remember telling my oldest that I thought maybe I should get assessed because I thought I might be autistic. When she, and all of her teenaged siblings, finally finished laughing hysterically they said “Mom! We thought you knew!” So yeah, at 48 diagnosed autistic and adhd. This explained a LOT.

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