Saturday, August 24, 2019

Masking from an Autistic Perspective

Today I had a training for Boy Scouts of America. I am very involved. Seems like it would be no big deal right? You could not be more wrong. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my fellow scouters. This is a situation where I have to mask being autistic. What is masking? Masking is having to pretend you are neurotypical. They may know you are autistic but they unknowingly pressure you into acting typical.

Today I had a district committee workshop. I did try to get out of it but I was told it was mandatory.  I knew our district committee was not that large, so I thought I would be safe.

I forgot this training was for the whole council. Five different districts plus the explorers. There were 75 participants. This does not include the people who were running the program.

I sat in the front because I know the limitations of my own attention span. Then someone from the boys troop talked to me. I know her so it was no big deal. She knows my quirks and I did not have to mask so much.

I forced myself to make eye contact with the people I just met. I did not want them to think any less of me. I had to make sure I consciously was doing everything the ABA therapist told me I should even I know it was abuse. The anxiety, stress and fear all at once.  All of it is super painful for me. But I  did it.

Then the training started. The presenter wanted a cheer. I was fighting sensory overload without showing it. I have practiced a lot as a child because it was unacceptable growing up. At least I know how to do this. Once that stopped, I was able to breathe a bit.

The presenter finished then he paired us into groups. If you are autistic or have social anxiety, you know it is not as easy as it sounds. I tried to sit away from people at the table but it did not work. I felt like everyone was crowding me and I wanted to disappear.

In between all this, I found out that this training was ONLINE! No one said anything. I could have gone without the masking.

With the feeling with wanting to crawl into a hole, I forgot a stim toy, that usually calms me down. I am very proud of myself that I did it without that, no shutdown, no meltdown.

I did learn a lot BUT I should have been afforded the accommodation of the online training.

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