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androbot01
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12 May 2016, 10:42 am

Fnord wrote:
Now imagine what it was like to instead be beaten up for having poor social skills and jerky movements while also being able to out-score all the other students in your grade. Imagine being determined to prove them wrong and focusing on self-development instead of self-pity. Imagine struggling against your unknown limitations and succeeding where 'normal' people have given up or simply failed. imagine after earning recognition and accolades for your achievements, you finally find out why it was such a struggle.

That's great for you Fnord, but what about us that aren't so smart. I've struggled and tried to continually better myself but I have no real accomplishments to show for it.
I don't know what makes up my identity, I'm not sure what it is at all. But I do know that the challenges autism has caused me to face have had a part in the person that I am now.
I'll keep trying, but I'm not going to outscore anyone. I knew I was autistic before my formal diagnosis and I was glad to get it because with it has come a lot of support. I think I would have been more successful if I had been diagnosed with autism as a child and received the support that is available for autistic kids today.

Have you seen the movie "The Mask" with Jim Carrey? At one point the mask becomes stuck on his face. This is how I feel.



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12 May 2016, 12:10 pm

Fnord wrote:
OliveOilMom wrote:
... All my dx did was explain some things about me to me. But I could see if I grew up knowing about it and expecting limitations how I would identify with it. Also I could see how I wouldn't have been hellbent for leather to force myself to change things that I changed, because I would think it's not possible.
Exactly. Imagine what it must be like for someone to be told "You can't ... it's hopeless ... because you're autistic" from kindergarten to adulthood. THAT is what other people use to define your identity. No wonder some people want to "wear masks".

Now imagine what it was like to instead be beaten up for having poor social skills and jerky movements while also being able to out-score all the other students in your grade. Imagine being determined to prove them wrong and focusing on self-development instead of self-pity. Imagine struggling against your unknown limitations and succeeding where 'normal' people have given up or simply failed. imagine after earning recognition and accolades for your achievements, you finally find out why it was such a struggle.

Now imagine someone telling you that you should base your identity on one disability instead of a myriad of personal victories and accomplishments.

Sure, I am one who "wears a mask"; but only to keep the jerks from using a disability as an excuse to hold me back and keep me down.

I refuse to let anyone else define my identity for me.


see Fnord, this is exactly what my column is about.
let me make myself clear. I don't want you to only identify as autistic, and I don't want anyone to define your identity for you. That is exactly the notion I'm trying to challenge. I too faced regular discrimination, and have been told constantly that my successes so far in life have been despite my condition. We were both made to feel lesser for our autism, and were lucky in that we "overcame" it but many have been less lucky, as hyperborean quotes,
Hyperborean wrote:
I remember going to an autism conference a couple of years ago, where one of the speakers was a British pop star, Johnny Dean, who was diagnosed with AS in his 40s. Someone asked him what difference it would have made to his life if he'd been diagnosed as a child. He replied: 'I probably wouldn't have been a pop singer'.

The purpose here is not to force you into a label, rather to change that label. Don't let your autism define you. I don't. I'm fighting that battle right now, as most interest in my writing centers around my writing about autism, and I cover a much broader series of topics. On top of being a writer, and being autistic, I'm an artist, I went to The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, I'm a cis straight white male, I grew up in the midwest, I'm an activist for multiple movements and have attended several protests for feminism, black lives matter, and LGBTQ events. I bike, I've recently started running. All of these things define me, but I'm sick of letting autism be a negative definition.
I don't want anyone else to feel that way about themselves. I'm sure you don't either. You deal with it by not letting the word autism follow you, which is great, that's how I've been surviving the last four years of college. Now that I'm graduating, I've decided to challenge those notions of autism, to empower the next generation.
instead of overcoming autism and facing a constant struggle to conform, I'm planting myself next to the river of truth, and telling the world to conform to me. I don't want the next generation to, as OliveOilMom put it "pout and say that they should accept me like I was and whine when they didn't" because there are marked challenges for autistics which we should be encouraged to confront, but there are things that they shouldn't be made to feel bad about. We should be encouraging and empowering the next generation to become the best version of themselves.
No autistic should be made to feel bad for stimming or expressing passion for a special interest.
No autistic should feel that they need to make eye contact and establish physical contact to deserve and receive love.
No autistic should be bullied for their difference or told they are lesser, disordered, disabled.

We should call these things what they are, discrimination, and not minimize our abusers by using casual language like "bullying". When someone autistic is bullied for their social oddities, that's a hate crime.
Fnord, don't let anyone define you, challenge their notion of you as lesser, and never let yourself feel like you don't deserve equality or empowerment. Whatever labels you use, wear them with pride.

and Androbot01, I have a quote for you, from a childhood hero of mine, Einstein, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."



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13 May 2016, 4:27 am

QuinnPRK wrote:
No autistic should be made to feel bad for stimming or expressing passion for a special interest.
No autistic should feel that they need to make eye contact and establish physical contact to deserve and receive love.
No autistic should be bullied for their difference or told they are lesser, disordered, disabled.


You have a dream and that is wonderful. My dream is much simpler. I want to feel comfortable in the world. No more of those "What are you looking at" or the "Go away" stares. Being greeted with a "Happy to see you" or "Welcome back" smile is so much nicer. The only way is to make an effort, meet people half way. Blind acceptance is not the way of the world.

In your story, a character gets a personality compliments in a locker room. It does not work that way. Being teased like a friend and giving it back is acceptance. Till then, social isolation and avoidance is a common response to all the dirty looks, back stabbing and rejection that is our life.

Many of use have been dealing with this crap for decades and have wisdom that should be considered.

Note: I may have broken a link with my posting -- fixed


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Last edited by goatfish57 on 13 May 2016, 5:45 am, edited 5 times in total.

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13 May 2016, 4:59 am

Drawyer wrote:
I know I'm likable to some people lol, which is enough. I accept the fact that I cannot satisfy all humans. Damn...why am I going to tell this personal things to you guys?..Maybe I want to have some friends here? Cutting to the chase, I was wellknown for some talents since very young age, I could earn money since I was a middle school student. You can tell that I've never felt truely connected to the same age group as me, if there are so called friends in my life, they're all kind of eldery people lol..much much older than me. They never judge me, they only encourage me to be myself ..so I think, part of thanks to them, I don't feel urged to pretend to be another person than myself. I feel fortunate to be who I am, even though people think I'm not a normal human being.


Friendly hugs :)


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Dannyboy271
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13 May 2016, 2:04 pm

This article was an awesome read, albeit a very difficult one.

You know it's weird; I grew up developing a mask before everyone knew what autism is. Eventually, I got sick of trying to hide, and just let my colors fly. I learned 2 things from such. That being:

1. If you're insecurely or defensively weird, then people will judge, mock, question, or bully you.

2. If you're confident, outgoing, (Even though you don't actually know how proper socializing works.) and happily weird, then people flock towards you. (So long as your respectful to others.)

Though, since I have allowed myself to be "me" I've found NOBODY brings up autism around me. I haven't really told anyone I'm autistic, but, knowing how much more well known the condition is, I suspect they suspect I'm autistic.



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15 May 2016, 8:07 am

QuinnPRK wrote:
... I don't want you to only identify as autistic, and I don't want anyone to define your identity for you.
You, a stranger, want something for me ... So what? Where were you when I was homeless? What did you want for me then?
QuinnPRK wrote:
That is exactly the notion I'm trying to challenge. I too faced regular discrimination, and have been told constantly that my successes so far in life have been despite my condition. We were both made to feel lesser for our autism, and were lucky in that we "overcame" it but many have been less lucky,
People make their own "luck". I prepared for the opportunities that were likely to be presented. I did not wait for someone to hand me my accomplishments, because I worked for them.
QuinnPRK wrote:
Fnord, don't let anyone define you, challenge their notion of you as lesser, and never let yourself feel like you don't deserve equality or empowerment.
That includes you, as well. I may have needed advice 40 years ago; but today it comes too late, because I have already made my own choices and achieved my own successes; and to have someone else tell me this late in the game what I shoulda / coulda / woulda done instead is not only pointless, but also slightly irritating.

Masks ... pfeh ... everyone wears a mask of one kind or another. No one ever presents their true self to everyone all of the time. It's human nature to hold something back, to keep our vulnerabilities hidden, and to present only our strengths. Why do some people make an issue of it? Why do some people assume that everyone else should remove their masks, while they keep their own masks firmly in place? Hypocrites ... every one of them.


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This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank
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15 May 2016, 8:37 am

Fnord wrote:
QuinnPRK wrote:
... I don't want you to only identify as autistic, and I don't want anyone to define your identity for you.
You, a stranger, want something for me ... So what? Where were you when I was homeless? What did you want for me then?
QuinnPRK wrote:
That is exactly the notion I'm trying to challenge. I too faced regular discrimination, and have been told constantly that my successes so far in life have been despite my condition. We were both made to feel lesser for our autism, and were lucky in that we "overcame" it but many have been less lucky,
People make their own "luck". I prepared for the opportunities that were likely to be presented. I did not wait for someone to hand me my accomplishments, because I worked for them.
QuinnPRK wrote:
Fnord, don't let anyone define you, challenge their notion of you as lesser, and never let yourself feel like you don't deserve equality or empowerment.
That includes you, as well. I may have needed advice 40 years ago; but today it comes too late, because I have already made my own choices and achieved my own successes; and to have someone else tell me this late in the game what I shoulda / coulda / woulda done instead is not only pointless, but also slightly irritating.

Masks ... pfeh ... everyone wears a mask of one kind or another. No one ever presents their true self to everyone all of the time. It's human nature to hold something back, to keep our vulnerabilities hidden, and to present only our strengths. Why do some people make an issue of it? Why do some people assume that everyone else should remove their masks, while they keep their own masks firmly in place? Hypocrites ... every one of them.


That’s good for you Fnord. I too have had to make my own successes in life but they were very difficult for me and some of my success came at great costs to my well-being.

I’m only now starting to realize just how much I have ignored my own needs over the years and what that’s cost me. The mask I’ve been wearing leaves me with constant anxiety and has led me to isolation and depression. Since joining WP four weeks ago, I now have a much better understanding of many of my personal problems have been caused by me putting on a mask for others at my own expense.

I see by your reactions here that you feel, in the forum at least, completely able to express yourself. I hope you feel so confident in all your life because I don’t. I understand QuinnPRK’s article and found it moderately helpful, though not my preference of writing style. I’ve read a lot of things you’ve written and I can often see your point. I can see your point with respect to yourself in this case, but I cannot understand your outright attack and bashing of the article.

Since this is your thread, now that you’ve stated your own experiences and opinions as they relate to your life, what exactly is your issue with this article? I find your negativity and opposition in this case unfounded in logic or reason.


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15 May 2016, 8:55 am

The mask in art history is fascinating.

I think I used to call it The Chameleon.

I've heard others talk about 2 voices.
One dialog in my head one that is going on with another person.
The more comfortable I am with the person the less the internal dialog is different
As a ventriloquist I'm working on a puppet less routine on the above. It's been on my head for 25 years. It's seen or heard the light of day on stage a few times.


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15 May 2016, 10:28 am

This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank wrote:
... now that you’ve stated your own experiences and opinions as they relate to your life, what exactly is your issue with this article? ...
The implicit assumption that 'masks' are a burden, and therefore bad.

Masks are social tools, nothing more - neither good nor bad. Only the intent behind them and the uses they're put to determines their moral context. To treat masks - I prefer the term 'roles' - as something awful is to imply that those who use them to their own advantage are somehow awful, too.

Every person has many roles - parent, child, spouse, sibling ... worker, manager, leader ... lover, friend, foe ... having to shift roles under different contexts does not make one a victim. Those who can adeptly shift roles are successful, instead.

Of course, for some people, there are only one or two roles that they're comfortable with - chronic victim and tragic victim - and I discarded those roles long, long ago.


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15 May 2016, 11:33 am

This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank wrote:
I’m only now starting to realize just how much I have ignored my own needs over the years and what that’s cost me. The mask I’ve been wearing leaves me with constant anxiety and has led me to isolation and depression. Since joining WP four weeks ago, I now have a much better understanding of many of my personal problems have been caused by me putting on a mask for others at my own expense.


I can relate to this very much and have had years of chronic pains and anxiety from the stress of trying to appear natural to others. Have you seen a therapist or professional about this? I did about a year ago, and he saw some Asperger's traits in me, but I was still masking then and not quite understanding how much I was masking. After having several months to think over all of this and better understand myself, I'm thinking of going back and am wondering if it's wiser to see the same therapist or start with someone new.

Also, do you work? How do you cope? I do okay, but the noises are so distracting, and meetings can be a nightmare.



This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank
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15 May 2016, 11:51 am

HighLlama wrote:
This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank wrote:
I’m only now starting to realize just how much I have ignored my own needs over the years and what that’s cost me. The mask I’ve been wearing leaves me with constant anxiety and has led me to isolation and depression. Since joining WP four weeks ago, I now have a much better understanding of many of my personal problems have been caused by me putting on a mask for others at my own expense.


I can relate to this very much and have had years of chronic pains and anxiety from the stress of trying to appear natural to others. Have you seen a therapist or professional about this? I did about a year ago, and he saw some Asperger's traits in me, but I was still masking then and not quite understanding how much I was masking. After having several months to think over all of this and better understand myself, I'm thinking of going back and am wondering if it's wiser to see the same therapist or start with someone new.

Also, do you work? How do you cope? I do okay, but the noises are so distracting, and meetings can be a nightmare.


This is all new for me. I’ve known the symptoms of Asperger’s all fit me for about two years but I’ve only accepted this and really started reading what that means in the last month. I’ve had issues my whole life but I didn’t know the cause until I started reading WP a month ago. I have such a better understanding of myself now through reading what others have written that fits me perfectly.

My job right now could best be described as “Project Manger”. It is a very difficult job where I have to constantly deal with some very troublesome people. It has been very trying at times for me and I have had some issues in interacting with others. I’ve tried so hard to change myself to fit in and failed continuously. I’ve been off work for a while due to anxiety and depression. In the last week I’ve sort of had an epiphany that my anxiety and depression have been caused by me suppressing myself to fit in with others. When I realized this I started feeling better almost right away and I think I’m ready to go back to work next week.

So to answer your other question, I have not coped very well so far. I’ve constantly had breakdowns and my absenteeism has me on the radar of the HR department and that’s never a good thing. I’m going to see a therapist and going forward with this new information, I think things will be much better this time. I didn’t realize what my sensory limitations were and how they were affecting me on a daily basis. Now that I do, I can avoid these and do things to cope better in the future.

I feel like I’ve awoke from a coma and everything is now so clear. I’m going to be okay, I think.


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16 May 2016, 7:03 am

Fnord wrote:
This_Space_Intentionally_Left_Blank wrote:
... now that you’ve stated your own experiences and opinions as they relate to your life, what exactly is your issue with this article? ...
The implicit assumption that 'masks' are a burden, and therefore bad.

Masks are social tools, nothing more - neither good nor bad. Only the intent behind them and the uses they're put to determines their moral context. To treat masks - I prefer the term 'roles' - as something awful is to imply that those who use them to their own advantage are somehow awful, too.

Every person has many roles - parent, child, spouse, sibling ... worker, manager, leader ... lover, friend, foe ... having to shift roles under different contexts does not make one a victim. Those who can adeptly shift roles are successful, instead.

Of course, for some people, there are only one or two roles that they're comfortable with - chronic victim and tragic victim - and I discarded those roles long, long ago.


Masks are a useful tool but like most things in life are harmful if overdone. If you are a small minority you are going to have to do a lot more role playing to be functional then if you are in the majority. Depending on the Autistic person, thier autism can harm thier ability to understand what role needs to be played and the ability to act it.

That is why dispite the real harm done by growing up undiagnosed our generation had significant advantages. Unless our autism was severe enough to get us institutionlized we were forced to interact with the world. We did not learn social rules and expectations as well as most but we learned them to some degree through experience. If we wanted to persue our interests we had to leave our home and interact with people to do so.


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17 May 2016, 5:58 am

I was called weird and ostracized all throughout childhood. When I was in college, I learned a lot more about how people expected me to "be" in order to be accepted. So, I adapted the best I could. But it didn't *really* work. I might not be ostracized or thought so weird these days, but the adapting/masking hasn't gotten me what I really wanted, which was true friends.

I learned how to look for cues on how to act from other people, rather than just being myself. I tried to shave off the corners of my square-pegged self to try and fit into the round hole, rather than learning how to love being a square peg. I have wasted time and energy trying to adapt and fit in that may have been better used pursuing things that are more natural to me.

I am going to use the analogy of a person's weight. Some people are naturally thin. Some people are naturally predisposed to being overweight. Society puts forward an "ideal" and if someone isn't thin enough, they are considered unhealthy or lazy or some other undesirable quality. The people who are naturally overweight have to work MUCH HARDER to try and meet that standard. And, well, sometimes it is just not worth it. I might have to eat well and exercise a tremendous amount and STILL not meet the ideal. When that effort to meet the physical ideal takes away time from the things that make me me, it is a problem. Why all this effort just to please someone else? So I can be thought of as more valuable because I am the right SIZE? Yes, eating healthy and exercising are important, but even levels of moderate and healthy levels of eating right and exercising are NOT ENOUGH for someone who is predisposed to being overweight.

This is how I feel about the "mask." SOME masking is helpful and important. But when it goes beyond that to the point where masking is taking over your whole life, preventing you from being yourself, it's a problem. And I have spent a couple of decades doing that...taking time and effort away from the things that please ME so that I can somehow try and fit in and get people to like me. And it hasn't worked to the extent I had hoped! So, now I ask "Why am I doing this?" I am trying to find where the mask ends and where *I* begin, and it seems a little stuck on and embedded in the skin.



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17 May 2016, 6:03 am

nerdygirl wrote:
I was called weird and ostracized all throughout childhood. When I was in college, I learned a lot more about how people expected me to "be" in order to be accepted. So, I adapted the best I could. But it didn't *really* work. I might not be ostracized or thought so weird these days, but the adapting/masking hasn't gotten me what I really wanted, which was true friends.

I learned how to look for cues on how to act from other people, rather than just being myself. I tried to shave off the corners of my square-pegged self to try and fit into the round hole, rather than learning how to love being a square peg. I have wasted time and energy trying to adapt and fit in that may have been better used pursuing things that are more natural to me.

I am going to use the analogy of a person's weight. Some people are naturally thin. Some people are naturally predisposed to being overweight. Society puts forward an "ideal" and if someone isn't thin enough, they are considered unhealthy or lazy or some other undesirable quality. The people who are naturally overweight have to work MUCH HARDER to try and meet that standard. And, well, sometimes it is just not worth it. I might have to eat well and exercise a tremendous amount and STILL not meet the ideal. When that effort to meet the physical ideal takes away time from the things that make me me, it is a problem. Why all this effort just to please someone else? So I can be thought of as more valuable because I am the right SIZE? Yes, eating healthy and exercising are important, but even levels of moderate and healthy levels of eating right and exercising are NOT ENOUGH for someone who is predisposed to being overweight.

This is how I feel about the "mask." SOME masking is helpful and important. But when it goes beyond that to the point where masking is taking over your whole life, preventing you from being yourself, it's a problem. And I have spent a couple of decades doing that...taking time and effort away from the things that please ME so that I can somehow try and fit in and get people to like me. And it hasn't worked to the extent I had hoped! So, now I ask "Why am I doing this?" I am trying to find where the mask ends and where *I* begin, and it seems a little stuck on and embedded in the skin.


I have also experienced this, and years of off-and-on physical pain from stress by constantly masking. The funny part is, while you learn certain cues or things about them, I'm not sure social exchanges ever become more natural. I still don't, and never will, understand dating or regular conversation. I think I'll always have that desire to "info dump" with people, even though I can reign it in enough when needed. But, you can only keep that up so long, and frequently feel like you're talking about nothing, which can lead to unwelcome frustration. I prefer welcome frustration?



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18 May 2016, 8:26 am

Finding places (besides on line) to take off the mask has helped this writer.
They include small group at church, improvisational comedy, celebrate recovery and a few friends. The latter included my wife. Taking off the mask is something we call "fart real".
I have been fat and thin. Now I'm in between. When I was thin I even go "body checks" at Over Eaters meetings. Folks who had not seen me for awhile kept asking me of I was sick. They never asked that when I was obese.
Puppets are one of my ultimate masks.

Are emojis mask. Do I LOL when it's not funny?????
me...."Reader and Righter"
8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: 8)


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18 May 2016, 10:54 am

For me? After almost four decades with this "disease," after having to negotiate learning to live in a neurotypical world on my own??

The Mask just is what is. It is the reality, it is the necessity, it is the tool that makes something approximating a normal life possible. You can wear The Mask, and try very hard to permanently graft it onto your face, or autism can define you and pretty severely limit your life.

By the most liberal estimates, counting every autistic person, we're about 3% of the population. Grudging acceptance-- being tolerated with pity, or humor, or scorn, or by "passing" and letting the mockery pass because they don't realize it applies to us too-- is The Happy Ending.

That makes me feel very sad, and very tired. The Mask is draining. It is isolating. It means never relaxing, never really having a genuine connection with another human being.

But at least we are teaching kids younger now. I was 13 when I first put on The Mask; I had learned to conceive of a life without it (had been taught that I was fine as I was, beautiful in fact, there was nothing wrong with me, and had lived under that premise until I got tired of having taunts and objects thrown at me and took it upon myself to put a stop to it) and resented it very much (still do). Maybe if young autistics are taught to craft and wear the mask from early childhood, it cuts down on the cognitive dissonance. I don't know.

How old are you? At what age were you diagnosed?? What therapies did you receive??


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