How I hid my autism to fit in
Some autistic people try to ‘camouflage’ their differences in order to fit in with those around them. However, this can take a lot of effort and feel very stressful, and can prevent people from feeling like they can be themselves at work.
People who are camouflaging may:
- predict, plan and rehearse conversations before they happen,
- mimic phrases, gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice picked up from other people or film, TV or book characters,
- rely on props, for example pets, children or an interesting object,
- avoid eye contact but give the impression of interest by looking at the bridge of the nose or standing at right angles to the person they are talking with, or
- make eye contact even if it is not useful for communication
Eloise Stark struggled to make sense of why she felt different until she was diagnosed with autism at the age of 27. In this article, she explains how it felt to grow up with autism, the strategies she used to try to fit in, and the consequences these measures have on her daily life.
It might be useful for those looking to learn more about autism, or employers who are hoping to improve their office environment to become more autism-friendly.