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IsabellaLinton
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21 Jul 2021, 12:14 am

I've noticed there's a lot of talk and research lately about autistic women masking. The research makes it seem like masking and social pressure for conformity only apply to women. In my opinion, the onslaught of "women's autism" information suggests that autistic girls and women are capable of creating such strong facades they are afraid to come out, or that no one will believe they are autistic. I know this is true for some women, but certainly not all women. I can't mask and never really could. I was always perceived as different or weird whether people had a label for it or not.

I believe autism is just as challenging for men as it is for women, especially when compounded by toxic masculinity and societal expectations of how a man should act. When boys aren't diagnosed in childhood, for whatever reason, or even when they are, what is the male experience? Most research talks about little boys, or now girls and women. Men's voices seem to be ignored when it comes to questions about masking and social pressure.

Men / Trans Men - I'd love your feedback on these questions if you're willing.

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age?
- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult?
- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family and friends, etc?
- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in?
- If you were diagnosed in school, or you went to special ed., how did that affect your social confidence?
- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept?
- Did you feel pressure to hide your autistic traits? (sensory issues, special interests, etc)?
- Did you feel pressure to hide your emotions or fake them?
- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports? (male stereotyes?)
- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men?
- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it?
- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos?
- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex?
- Were you ever worried to tell a partner that you were autistic, or thought you were autistic?
- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills?
- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall?
- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media?

Thanks.

Any input you can give to these types of questions would be greatly appreciated.



firemonkey
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21 Jul 2021, 1:53 am

I really struggle to see any signs that I mask. That anyone,female or male, can process things in real time to come over a certain way astonishes me. Like you I was perceived as 'odd','weird' etc. It was always there, but increased dramatically when I became a teenager.

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age? = Dxed at 62

- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult? = MH pros at previous MH trust repeatedly ignored my mention of ASD/autism

- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family and friends, etc?= Had a session with a pdoc about the issues. Was asked a couple of irrelevant. and quite frankly daft, questions and then he huffily ended the discussion . I was 51 then.

- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in? = Prep school = no friends. Was teased about being the 'missing link' . Public severe verbal bullying. Very unpopular. Introverted and bad at sport. The ideal boy was brash and/or good at sport. The incident I most remember is having mocking monkey chants being aimed at me by a classroom of other boys.

- If you were diagnosed in school, or you went to special ed., how did that affect your social confidence?
- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept? =

- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports? (male stereotyes?) =Sport was used as a means of 'legitimising' the bullying. I.e put in goal which is the worst position for a crap football player, the inevitable letting in of goals fuelled the sociopathic bullying tendencies of the other boys.
- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men? = too a certain degree,yes.

- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it?= Not that I'm aware of.

- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos? = Upset,frustrated,annoyed

- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex? = No
- Were you ever worried to tell a partner that you were autistic, or thought you were autistic =No
- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills? = General society very much so, including many MH pros.

- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall? First psych appointment was late 1973. A few months before I was 17. Over the years severe mental illness was seen as explaining everything. I think the term used is 'overshadowing'


- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media? = For me it's less about men or women's voices than the narrow range of people used


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You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)


Last edited by firemonkey on 21 Jul 2021, 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

RetroGamer87
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21 Jul 2021, 4:15 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I've noticed there's a lot of talk and research lately about autistic women masking. The research makes it seem like masking and social pressure for conformity only apply to women. In my opinion, the onslaught of "women's autism" information suggests that autistic girls and women are capable of creating such strong facades they are afraid to come out, or that no one will believe they are autistic. I know this is true for some women, but certainly not all women. I can't mask and never really could. I was always perceived as different or weird whether people had a label for it or not.
I suspect the recent focus on women's autism could be because until recently the focus was on autistic men. Due to improvements in diagnoses, the number of austistic women has been found to be higher than was guessed earlier.

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I believe autism is just as challenging for men as it is for women, especially when compounded by toxic masculinity and societal expectations of how a man should act
Probably but I don't envy autistic women for having to fit into traditionally extrovorted an empathetic roles. I feel like the idea that men are a bit less social, have smaller friend groups and display less empathy actually makes it easier for me to mask.

I can't fit into the toxic masculine tough guy crowd but most of the time I'm not really expected to. Actually the group I have the most trouble blending into is the middle class. Their culture seems weirdly toxic to me.


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Dear_one
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21 Jul 2021, 4:40 am

Jeez, that's one heck of a list, Isabella, and I agree that trans people are just guessing at gender issues, unable to access the usual wiring.

I got AS from my mother. She was the only person who thought she was normal, but they didn't call her out, and she just thought she was smarter than average. I went to Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families and available counselling from about age 40 but nobody mentioned AS, despite many tip-offs in my history. Finally, when I was 56, and my sister was distressed that mom was dying and had never said "I love you" I did another search and found a list of AS characteristics, which made both our lives make sense.

I then had a year of chaos, winding up in an isolated small town, but I get no skepticism when I mention my AS to laymen or pros. OTOH, the regular nurses expect me to leave it, and my PTSD, at the door if I have a physical problem, so I can't use the medical system here for anything serious. I acquired a sleep disorder in the chaos, and can't stay reliably polite if people problems prevent sleep. Around here, even the mental health workers are shunned, let alone their patients. Crazy people abound, but nobody wants to admit it.

Like mother, I never particularly wanted to fit in. I sought out artistic, bohemian companions who valued eccentricity. In school, I was quite content to run last and ignore sports, and don't remember being hassled about it. As an adult, bicycling has been my sport and often my transportation. I dropped out of high school after mother left and father kicked me out - she didn't know he had until she was dying and finally asked. I taught myself engineering, and won major prizes with my prototypes, but never got a job offer or even a rip-off of ideas.

I have never felt at all insecure about my manhood - I test out as straghter than 85% of people, and have had gay friends with no confusion or problem at all. I don't worry about AS men being considered dangerous; I worry about all men being slandered that way, as if we never wait for the last lifeboat or help people in distress. I had no luck being proactive in romance, but had enough partners who liked what they thought they saw. None really got to know me, though. Only my last girlfriend was post - DX, and the AS was not an issue. I lost her in the chaos, but we remained friends.

Following the Golden Rule, I have always tried to have a world-average lifestyle, which looks poor here. I have never attracted a gold-digger. I might well have done much better in business if I'd looked conventionally successful and greedy.

I don't think that any men's voices are heard in the media if they speak up for men, except the men who perpetuate the negative stereotypes.



RetroGamer87
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21 Jul 2021, 4:41 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Men / Trans Men - I'd love your feedback on these questions if you're willing.
I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age? I was professionally diagnosed at age 8.
- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult? N/A
- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family and friends, etc? Most of the time, yes. A small number of strangers have said they think Asperger’s doesn't really exist.
- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in? I was diagnosed in school
- If you were diagnosed in school, or you went to special ed., how did that affect your social confidence? For the first few years I didn't even know as Asperger’s syndrome was. They told me I had it but I didn't know what it was. Internet access wasn't quite ubiquitous at the time and the school library was stocked with books from the 1970s. By the time I was 13 or so, I found out that Asperger’s is considered a disability and this made me feel very embarrassed. One of my mother’s friends thought he could pray the Asperger’s away. It didn't work. It's a lifelong condition.

When I was 15 I went through a try hard stage (academically), taking on extra subjects, etc and then got burnout. For the next few years I maintained that I couldn't continue in full-time study or full-time work because "full time is impossible for aspies". I now know that I can do full time so long as I manage my time and energy carefully.


- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept? When I was younger I was scared of dating. I don't mean that I wasn't good at it or that I got rejected. I was scared to even try. A few girls asked me out and I rejected them.
- Did you feel pressure to hide your autistic traits? (sensory issues, special interests, etc)? Not very much. I feel the general public are more educated about that now. I try not to talk about my special interests too much because when other aspies talk about their special interests I find it really boring so I don't want to make them feel bored.
- Did you feel pressure to hide your emotions or fake them? Sometimes I feel under pressure to be more emotional. When my partner announced that she was pregnant everyone expected me to be elated. Instead I was just shocked and more than a little scared. Our daughter is 11 months old now and I'm still struggling to hide my negative emotions about living with a baby and fake positive emotions about it.
- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports? (male stereotyes?) No and no. Only my dad ridiculed me for not playing sports. No one else really cared.
- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men? Yeah. I feel like middle class people are judging me for not having a high achieving career.
- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it? [color=blue]Yes. I'm normally pretty shy but I can fake charisma. It's exhausting.
- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos? I haven't really encountered this much except from internet trolls.
- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex? Quite the opposite. I felt like I would be called an incel for not wanting to have sex. It got to the point where my desire for sex was more about fitting in with other guys (who were sexually active) than actually wanting sex.
- Were you ever worried to tell a partner that you were autistic, or thought you were autistic? The only part of that that worried me was when and how to tell them I was autistic.
- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills? Yes.
- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall? Usually but I don't like how psychologists only see me for 10 weeks and then act like my depression and anxiety is cured.
- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media? Honestly, I'm not really sure.


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Temeraire
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21 Jul 2021, 6:49 am

The Mask You Live In (2015) is a documentary exploring a lot of these issues for males in general.

If you can get hold of it, this is worth a viewing.



Harry Haller
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21 Jul 2021, 8:02 am

That's a lotta questions :D !
Short on time this morning, will try an executive summary approach, answer the gist:

Precisely fit the INTJ "mastermind" or "architect" https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality
with the exception that like a little adrenalin. Like life fast and on the edge. (No, not ADD)

"Classical" Asperger - highly scheduled regimented (yet liking it spiced up - but in a scheduled manner :lol: ). So schooling was a solo endeavor. Sports solo. Robustly dislike leadership posts (peeps just too unpredictable) though good at it because task focused, no favorites, fair. (Never publicize it though)

No Adonis problems
- Though, think it is a Bob Dylan quote: "I'm more of an adventurous type than a relationship type."
So relationships abbreviated are, it seems.

Fundamentally the philosophy is ok, got these cards - play the hand as best ye can and don't worry so much about how it pans out 'cause life is short.

But genuine curious:
How did ye come up with the questions, what be the impetus?
Seems kinda deep.

edit: never answered masking part :o - only lately aware AS, but since kiddiehood always very content on my own and never concerned about "fitting in" or reindeer games so never learned to "mask." Sometimes amused at circumstances and its hard to hide that. Seems it all works out.



Last edited by Harry Haller on 21 Jul 2021, 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mountain Goat
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21 Jul 2021, 8:45 am

I will have to answer your questions when I have the time to relax and think about them, but I can say that masking has been part of my life from an early age, and I can mask in triplicate, and that as a child of seven years old, I nearly ended up in a special school but was able to fool the psycologist who came to the school to see me and two others (Without our parents knowing anything about it) as the teacher knew we had issues. The other two children were of low intelligence and I was of a little above average (Which really surprized teachers who taught me a few years later). But if I had not seen straight through the mans questions, I would have ended up in the special school. I do admit I lied to stay in the school I sas in because the thought of travelling into town each day away from where I lived was terrifying to me! I hardly spoke a word in class which was why I was put forward to be looked at along with the "Double take" learning where I would learn sometheing and get it and do it perfectly, but a few days time when I had to do it again I had lost the ability to do it so I had to learn it all over again. This only effected certain things though like learning how to do handwriting which was why the teacher at that time picked up on there being something wrong.

But yes. Masking is something that I have from the age of about six onwards I have done and I really started to develop masking big time when I got into secondary school which was a frightening experience... One I can describe that for the first two years I was living in fear... The third year onwards I was in fear but I was starting to settle due to getting more used to the ever shifting school routines... But I learned to mask my fear due to kids bullying which minor bullying was almost a daily occurance. Major bullying took place now and then but maybe once every year or every other year? I forgive them.
But being different in a setting of conformity without learning to mask... How is that possible? I have always had to develop aays to hide the "Real me" so I can relate to people without risking being bullied or pointed out as being difderent.
I lived in fear of being "Discovered" or being found out that I was masking. It is a fear that was very real and I had a whole class turn on me when due to stress in collage years my masking started breaking down. This left me traumatized for years. I nearly jumped straight through a window of a high building to avoid the situation when luckily for me the lecturer walked in through the door and told me off for standing o the desk. I was about to run from desk to desk as my only exit out of the room to avoid the 25 to 1 bullying was to make my own exit by jumping through the large single pane window and hope to land in the tree below.

So I learned in jobs that I later had to hand in my notice when I felt the masking starting to break down, and that has been my life.



Fnord
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21 Jul 2021, 9:02 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Men / Trans Men - I'd love your feedback on these questions if you're willing.
For the record, I identify as a gynotropic cis-male (He/Him/His Majesty).

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age?
Diagnosed in my mid-fifties.

- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult?
No.

- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family, and friends, etc?
Not by miy GP, and I have told no-one else.

- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in?
Every challenge that could be faced by a socially awkward and physically clumsy know-it-all with interests in science, role-playing games, and science-fiction.

- If you were diagnosed in school, or you went to special ed., how did that affect your social confidence?
N/A.

- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept?
Adversely.  I have always been "on the outside, looking in", but at least I now know why.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your autistic traits (sensory issues, special interests, etc)?
Yes, always.  Even before I knew my traits were autistic, "Fnord, stop that!" was a constant part of my childhood and adolescence.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your emotions or fake them?
Yes, always.

- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports (male stereotypes)?
I wanted to play sports and be accepted along with the other boys, but being physically clumsy/uncoordinated kept me from making the teams.

- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men?
Abso-freaking-lutely!

- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it?
No, although I did try to fit in.

- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos?
All the more incentive to hide behind a mask of eccentricity.

- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex?
"Incel" came about after I was married.  When I was a teen, dateless boys were called "fags", "homos", and "queers" instead.

- Were you ever worried to tell a partner that you were autistic, or thought you were autistic?
Yes.  Both my parents died without ever knowing (although my mother may have suspected), and I have never informed my wife.

- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills?
Yes.

- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall?
Not that I am aware of.

- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media?
Yes, but not identifiably so.



Last edited by Fnord on 21 Jul 2021, 9:45 am, edited 3 times in total.

ASPartOfMe
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21 Jul 2021, 9:05 am

Men / Trans Men - I'd love your feedback on these questions if you're willing.

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age?
Professionally diagnosed at age 55

- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult?
I was privileged in this regard. My sister a speech pathologist recognized it in me and knew where to look to find a qualified clinician

- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family and friends, etc?
See above

- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in?
I didn’t fit in. My school kicked me out after 2nd grade. Parents found a private school willing to take me in. The smaller classes were good for me. Went back to public school from 5th grade on. The usual bullying, I always sat by myself at the lunch table. etc. I did fit in my last two years in college.

- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept?
I always felt I had to try twice or three times as hard to accomplish something that resembled what others were doing.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your autistic traits? (sensory issues, special interests, etc)?
More as an adult as I am aware these things annoy and bother most. Then I rambled on.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your emotions or fake them?
I never really could fake them. I feel hiding ones emotions to a certain degree is a good thing more rational and less impulsive decision making. It only becomes toxic when it is done to excess. It is difficult for me to know when I am doing it too much. That said pressure no, just part of my personality.

- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports? (male stereotyes?)
I never played organized sports. I was bad at it and the ridicule was in most not wanting me on their team.

- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men?
I am not that important that society as whole cares that I do not conform. People most certainly do. The judgement back then was that I was (choose homophobic slur of your choice). That was the worst thing you could be judged as back then. When you get to be my age you are judged as eccentric or a curmudgeon, not as bad.

- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it?
The mask was more often then not trying to be as inauspicious as possible. It backfired.

- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos?
I feel sorry the younger autistics. Back then serial killers and psychos as I were branded “loners”. “Beware of the quiet ones” was a popular expression. After awhile I shuttered every time some killer was described that as a loner.

- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex?
No, the concept did not exist back then. If you did not want those things it was thought something was really weird/wrong with you. That is still true today. Incel is these days not being able to obtain those things when wanted, feeling entitled to those things and blaming and wanting to harm those who do obtain these things. Ironically the word was invented by a women in the early 90s who started an online group to commiserate with people of all genders who wanted but could not obtain sex.

- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills?
Absolutely. Until I was diagnosed I was one of those people. My income and career was far less then expected of a college grad.

- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall?
Yes, see above

- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media?
To a degree. In traditional media people such as Alex and John Elder Robison get interviewed a lot as do males who have done something in local media. For some reason when it comes to blogs and Youtube videos it seems a lot more women create those things. I do not find that problem as I relate a lot to what they are saying.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 21 Jul 2021, 9:48 am, edited 4 times in total.

IsabellaLinton
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21 Jul 2021, 9:22 am

Thanks so far, everyone! You don't need to answer all of the questions if you feel there are too many, but the more the merrier! I gave lots of questions, so you'd get an idea of what I was looking for.

It's something that's been on my mind since I self-identified in 2017 and was diagnosed in 2018. I read all the info that I could about women's diagnoses but couldn't help thinking that men's experience wouldn't likely be much different. The diagnostic criteria is the same so why do we always hear that women become expert maskers and not men? Don't men have equal pressures to meet gender expectations? If anything I think it's easier to be an autistic woman (shy, quiet, sensory issues), than a man. The stereotype is that women are expected to be sensual, and shy or quiet. Men are expected to be bold and confident, and I'm sure their sensory issues are seen as a weakness. That seems very challenging to me.

I never believed that masking was something specific to women even though the hype makes it seem so. I also have lots of male, autistic friends online (PM) and I've heard their emotional stories, details they don't always tell on the forum at large. I get the impression those voices don't get promoted in mainstream autism books / research. It seems especially rough for white autistic men because their voices are nearly cancelled by rhetoric such as "I'm tired of hearing about white men. The tests are designed for white boys", etc. In that respect it seems an entire group of us is being dismissed as irrelevant or somehow less than equal. I think this thought was triggered by criticism of the new season of Atypical, saying that Sam is a white, autistic man and that society is tired of hearing his story. I'm not sure "autistic men's stories" have ever been adequately portrayed. We all seem to agree that the media representation of Rain Man or The Good Doctor leave something to be desired. I'm not trying to make this about race or ethnicity. It's just what got me thinking about men's voices in general. They don't seem to exist beyond the crap that Baron-Cohen promotes, making autistic men seem like robots.

Autism books and narratives tend to suggest that men and women experience autism differently somehow. I prefer to think of us as "autistic humans" or in two groups "autistic humans who mask" and "autistic humans who don't", rather than four subgroups defined by gender. I think perhaps autistic women write about their feelings more often than autistic men, but that doesn't mean the feelings themselves are much different.

Yeah, it's deep I guess ... but these are the things that keep me awake at night.



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21 Jul 2021, 10:11 am

The thing autistic women discuss that I can not relate to is an inordinate amount of time spent studying and copying others. It have done it a bit and am sure I have picked up stuff subconsciously but nothing close to the amount being described.

I do think one gender overall probably has it harder. I think it does more harm then good to obsessively compare. Then most important things are the individual, the interests and values of the society that person grew up with and most importantly the people one grew up with.

That said some comparing probably was necessary to deal with the problem of females being under and misdiagnosed.


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IsabellaLinton
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21 Jul 2021, 10:55 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Then most important things are the individual, the interests and values of the society that person grew up with and most importantly the people one grew up with.


I agree. Everyone's story is unique yet strikingly similar, regardless of gender.

ASPartOfMe wrote:
That said some comparing probably was necessary to deal with the problem of females being under and misdiagnosed.


Of course. I'm not suggesting that women's difficulties aren't real, or that they don't matter. I think all of stories matter.

I think it would be very difficult for autistic men to come out or act their authentic selves, for fear of being viewed as nerds, losers, loners, potential murderers, potential rapists, INCELs or homosexuals. This seems to be a recurring theme.



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21 Jul 2021, 11:59 am

- Are you diagnosed / self-diagnosed, and at what age?
Diagnosed, about 55.

- Did you have difficulty finding a diagnostician as an adult?
No, I got a list of diagnosticians from the National Autistic Society, and there were several within a bus ride of where I lived. I was diagnosed privately, but I also sought a NHS referral from my GP, and was offered an appointment, but the private one came up first so that never happened.

- Were you taken seriously by your GP, your family and friends, etc?
My GP said that the only thing they had was antidepressants and sedatives. The NHS diagnostician said he'd written to my GP outlining the adjustments that could be made, but I never noticed any changes, though it's hard to know because I hardly ever visit my GP.
. . . .Family and friends: my then wife took it seriously (though her idea of how to deal with it wasn't anything like mine). The few friends and family members I told didn't reject it out of hand, but didn't seem to know what to do with the information, and didn't ask any more about it. Employer made some adjustments, but they were all about exempting me from some duties - there was no interest in looking into it further or making any adjustments to get me included in anything.

- If you weren't diagnosed in school, what challenges did you face trying to fit in?
Wasn't a problem till I was about 11. Hard to sum up. Couldn't relate to the way I was being taught, didn't get along with the herd.

- If you were diagnosed in school, or you went to special ed., how did that affect your social confidence?

Not applicable.

- How did your autistic traits affect your relationships or your self-concept?
Hard to answer without writing a long essay. Great difficulty starting relationships with opposite sex, which I somehow overcame after a few years. Similar difficulty making and keeping friends generally, though never quite enough to completely isolate me.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your autistic traits? (sensory issues, special interests, etc)?
Didn't know they were there till I was diagnosed, after which I began to keep quieter about special interests, and I don't particularly share much about my sensory issues. Before diagnosis I suppose I didn't think I had anything much to hide. I never noticed any particular pressure to hide those things, though I've not noticed people being particularly interested in them either.

- Did you feel pressure to hide your emotions or fake them?
Not as far as I remember, except perhaps anger, which seemed to frighten people more than I felt it should.

- Did you play sports or get ridiculed if you didn't play sports? (male stereotyes?)
I soon found I was useless at sport, and avoided it. I don't think there was a very pervasive sports culture at my school, and the friends I had weren't into sport either. If I noticed anybody with a "it's an odd boy who doesn't play sport" attitude, I'd have just put them down as an idiot and shunned them.

- Do you feel that society judged / will judge you for not conforming with NT boys / men?
I was aware of something like that among the mainstream, but I had very little to do with judgemental people, gravitating much more towards outliers and nonconformists, so it didn't get much of a chance to become an issue.

- Do you feel like you wore a "mask" socially, or tried to fake it?
To a degree. Before diagnosis I gradually learned that I couldn't completely be myself, but I always thought it was just the same social mask that everybody has to wear. Nobody for example wins any friends by blurting out every negative feeling they have.

- How does it feel knowing other autistic men are often branded as serial killers or psychos?
I'm not aware that they are particularly. Like I said, I tend not to divulge my diagnosis - I tend to expect it would be pretty much ignored if I did, or maybe there'd be a vague suspicion that I was going to use my condition as an excuse to get things my own way, but I'd be surprised if anybody thought I was a murderer.

- Did you ever feel like you'd be called an INCEL if you wanted to date or have sex?
I had to look that one up, and I'm still not sure exactly what an INCEL is. I've been married 4 times, and rarely without a partner, so it would be hard to make that label stick. There was a time in my early teens when it would have been obvious what I was looking for, and that I couldn't get it, but I learned coping strategies and ceased to present myself in any way that would make me look like a desperate failure. I never looked upon that as particularly masking anything, I think I just realised it was OK to feel desperate but very counter-productive to act desperate. If I were to get socially and romantically isolated, I expect nobody would notice that I wasn't content with my own company.

- Were you ever worried to tell a partner that you were autistic, or thought you were autistic?
No. There have only been 3 of them since I was diagnosed. The first was the one who first suspected I was autistic when I didn't, the second one I just told, and I met the third one online during a discussion about ASD, so it wasn't a secret. I've always steered clear of judgemental types, so it's pretty unlikely that telling partners would ever have been a problem.

- Do you feel society / women have unfair expectations about your career or your income / skills?
I've seen a little bit of that, but it's not been common. I was lucky enough to have a job with reasonable pay for practically my whole life. I wasn't aware until a few years ago that this "male breadwinner" thing was still so common with the mainstream. I'd always thought all that had been overturned in the 1960s. There was one wife who turned out to be rather sold on the silly American Dream thing, but I just figured that was her problem, and felt rather sorry for her for feeling that way. She occasionally tried to get me to further my career, and she was furious and said I wasn't "a proper man" when I suggested I quit my job and let her be the breadwinner for a while. I was surprised anybody could be so backward in their thinking. But mostly I've spent my life with bohemian, counter-culture types who don't buy into the rat race, so I've encountered very little of it. A lot of the people I've associated with have had less money than I have, and generally they've been quite impressed with my modal income.

- Is your mental health taken seriously, overall?
I've never really complained of mental ill-health, so it's hard to know. I don't see myself as being particularly in trouble as far as mental health goes. I've had mixed results from telling people I can't do this or that thing they've wanted me to do, but mostly when it's gone down badly I think it's been because they've been under pressure themselves to get me to do a thing.

- Do you feel like autistic men's voices are heard in the media?
I really don't know. I don't follow much media, and have very little idea what's going on in the world politically about autism. I get the impression that adult ASD is mostly still being ignored.



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21 Jul 2021, 12:19 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Thanks so far, everyone! You don't need to answer all of the questions if you feel there are too many, but the more the merrier! I gave lots of questions, so you'd get an idea of what I was looking for.

It's something that's been on my mind since I self-identified in 2017 and was diagnosed in 2018. I read all the info that I could about women's diagnoses but couldn't help thinking that men's experience wouldn't likely be much different. The diagnostic criteria is the same so why do we always hear that women become expert maskers and not men? Don't men have equal pressures to meet gender expectations? If anything I think it's easier to be an autistic woman (shy, quiet, sensory issues), than a man. The stereotype is that women are expected to be sensual, and shy or quiet. Men are expected to be bold and confident, and I'm sure their sensory issues are seen as a weakness. That seems very challenging to me.

I never believed that masking was something specific to women even though the hype makes it seem so. I also have lots of male, autistic friends online (PM) and I've heard their emotional stories, details they don't always tell on the forum at large. I get the impression those voices don't get promoted in mainstream autism books / research. It seems especially rough for white autistic men because their voices are nearly cancelled by rhetoric such as "I'm tired of hearing about white men. The tests are designed for white boys", etc. In that respect it seems an entire group of us is being dismissed as irrelevant or somehow less than equal. I think this thought was triggered by criticism of the new season of Atypical, saying that Sam is a white, autistic man and that society is tired of hearing his story. I'm not sure "autistic men's stories" have ever been adequately portrayed. We all seem to agree that the media representation of Rain Man or The Good Doctor leave something to be desired. I'm not trying to make this about race or ethnicity. It's just what got me thinking about men's voices in general. They don't seem to exist beyond the crap that Baron-Cohen promotes, making autistic men seem like robots.

Autism books and narratives tend to suggest that men and women experience autism differently somehow. I prefer to think of us as "autistic humans" or in two groups "autistic humans who mask" and "autistic humans who don't", rather than four subgroups defined by gender. I think perhaps autistic women write about their feelings more often than autistic men, but that doesn't mean the feelings themselves are much different.

Yeah, it's deep I guess ... but these are the things that keep me awake at night.


I got on the gender equality bandwagon very early, because I saw dad working two jobs trying to keep mom happy doing only what she pleased. When a feminist support group decided to go co-ed, I was the first man invited. Eventually, I realized that the women got the support, and the men were on probation - if a man had been bad in the news, we were all in trouble that day. Even being off-white does not help. Canada has been making much of a survey on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, while adamantly ignoring twice as many men and boys. All gendered animals have to know species before they know how to behave with another creature, and gender if the species is the same. Even totally confused mixtures now expect everyone they meet to know their exact current identity. Hormones in food have been having major effects on development, as well as the lack of positive male role models. https://www.opednews.com/articles/Five- ... 8-250.html

Humans hit the sweet spot between Chimps and Bonobos in behaviour. We are monogamous enough to keep fathers involved in providing for our very long development period, and sneaky enough to keep the gene pool fresh, and to not waste the sperm of young heroes, nor the support of infertile men. This causes endless drama, but, like caffeine, it is an irritant that keeps us motivated to evolve quickly. When boys are play fighting and learning teamwork, girls are practising at gossip, and making and breaking alliances. After generations of work on gender equality, men are still looking for women who look fit to bear and suckle babies, and women are looking for men who can easily support them.

As any child knows, if you can't fight, your best option is to lie. Men fight openly, but women work in secret, with the result that men regard them as complicated and mysterious, while women consider men simple and easily manipulated. Feminists have shouted down the old Nature vs Nurture debate because pursuing it led to Sociobiology, which began to uncover the basic difference in our mating strategies. We have twice as many female ancestors as males. Many men were selected out, and a few had far more children than one woman can bear. A tribe that had men and women sharing the risks in a crisis would have recovered slower than one that only lost men, so we always tend to protect women overall and treat men as expendable.

Women compete to steal sperm or support from other women, so masking comes easier for them. If you Google "Let's get everything out in the open" you get 2.4 X as many hits with "he said" than "she said" at the end. One of the perks of being a telephone operator has always been eavesdropping, but it was quickly discovered that the men could not resist playing pranks that exposed them, while women were quite reliably secretive.

So, masking comes more naturally to women, but it is something that AS men may have to learn. It is a big subject, but I'll go do something else now.



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21 Jul 2021, 3:00 pm

I could never really mask. Sure, I'd be polite and follow the general social norms but I couldn't pass for NT if my life depended on it. I know some women can and that it's said to be extremely draining. Likewise with men. From what I've read here some of you developed compensatory strategies like masking, but others didn't / couldn't fake it very well.

One of my issues is that there's so much focus on "women's autism" as if it's a completely separate phenomenon from men's, with different characteristics. I've never felt that I have different autistic characteristics or that my gender played much of a role. I see it like "I'm autistic AND I'm also a woman" (intersectionality) as opposed to "I have female autism", if that makes sense. It seems some autistic men can mask, some can't. Some autistic women can mask, some can't. When I hear the talk about autistic women being so good at masking that they can't even get a diagnosis, or that the diagnostic criteria needs to be changed for their unique presentation, I'm confused. I feel like I failed as a Neurotypical woman and now I'm even failing as an autistic women, because I don't mask or require special testing to prove I'm on the spectrum. It makes me feel I'm somehow less of a woman / autistic woman. Some research even suggests that women like me must have a "male brain" which is equally sexist and dismissive. I have my brain. I'm a woman and I'm autistic. I'm not male, so that really hurts. It's like if we went around saying that autistic men had "female brains" for some reason. I doubt most men would like or agree with that.

More emphasis needs to be placed on autistic women who can't mask, and their response to being disenfranchised from the women's autism movement. More emphasis also needs to be placed on men and their experience. I asked my daughter today, to name some books by autistic men describing their journey. She agreed they are few and far between, because the researchers focus on young boys, or now girls and women. The only men we see represented are fictional characters like Rain Man and Sam on Atypical. It's very hard to find introspective, anecdotal narratives by autistic men about what it's really like growing up diagnosed (or undiagnosed) on the spectrum.