Autistic People Pretending to be Normal – Anonymously Autistic

There is something that is known among adults in the online Autism communities – society expects Autistic people to blend in. We live in a world where being different is not always welcomed.

People don’t understand Autism and naturally fear what they do not understand. I can not blame or grudge these people. They are acting on instinct by excluding what is not the same.

Many introverts can relate to this struggle as society tends to dote on extroverted and social people.

If you read definitions of the words introvert online and in books you will find the qualities described in a negative and often pathological way most of the time. “Reclusive, self-centered, loner.”

The definitions of the word extrovert are almost always more positive.  “Social butterfly, energetic, group-minded.”

What is an introverted, socially awkward Aspie to do?

Passing – an Autistic person who is trying to blend in and pass off as neurotypical.

Many Autistic adults, especially those who are not diagnosed until later in life, have grown up with a sense of shame for their “autistic-ness”. Early on we learn that kids will be mean and tease us if we flap our hands or act too strange.

Fear of bullies is often the first thing that causes us to turn inward. Autistic children are often bullied, mental and physical abuse from our peers is common and due to our language and communication difficulties we often do not tell adults.

We may not really understand what is being done to us and feel as if our peers are unpredictable, irrational, and dangerous.

We learn to blend in – blend in or be beat down. Our vicious peers teach us that our quirks will not be tolerated. Teachers tell us “quiet hands, sit still, you cannot wear sunglasses, or hats in the classroom”.

As children many of us are sick or uncomfortable but learn to suffer in silence.

It is hard for us to explain the unpleasant sensations in our bodies. My eyes burned from light so I told my mother I had a head ache. I took a lot of baby aspirin for no reason when I was little.

Once I remember telling a school nurse that I feel like I will throw up in the next hour if I don’t go home. She looked at me like I was crazy and told me that it was impossible for me to know that. She made me go back to class where I later threw up.

She did not understand that I was trying to tell her that I was getting close to the point of sensory overload and when I get to that overload I start throwing up. I was undiagnosed.

To her I was a child trying to get out of class. This happened to me several times a week and the school nurse insisted to my mother that I was somehow making myself sick to miss school.

People told me and my family that I was lying or making things up. Nobody understood, believed, or wanted to help me. I was dismissed.

Speaking up was not helpful and sometimes when I did people looked at me like I was crazy, so eventually I stopped.

With no other options I began to pretend to be normal but blending in has it’s dangers. If people spend enough time with me, they figure out that I am “unique”. In professional settings it takes all of my concentration to hold my “autistic-ness” in.

The offensive “compliment” – “You hide your Autism well” has been given to me in the past and ever since I have been greatly disturbed.

Why should I have to hide my Autism? Is it something that I should be ashamed of? I love who I am and would never want to change that even if I could. Hiding… in the closet as if there is something wrong with the way I was born.

Passing is not even good for your mental health. It teaches us to have shame in who we are. It gives a message that we are not good enough.

Passing takes up so much of an Autistic person’s limited social energy that we go home and have sensory meltdowns the minute we can be alone. When I was a child – and even now with work – I could hold things together through the school day but would come home and fall apart.

If an Autistic person is focusing on passing they are tense, working brain muscles that are not very strong, and are not relaxed. Imagine if you were tense and wound up for 8 to 10 hours straight. How would you feel when you got home?

Eventually this can lead to a total implosion, breakdown, or possibly – when we are having extreme difficulties keeping up with everyone’s expectations of us – a diagnosis.

I have to write everything down because my working memory is not great – but my long term memory is forever. I need to be alone. I need to stim. I need to wear hats and sunglasses indoors.

I need to avoid bright lights like Gizmo from Gremlins (and sometimes may exclaim “Bright lights!” in a Gizmo voice the instant a bright light stings my eyes and brain).

Even my humor is not understood or appreciated by most people. Not wanting to be thought of as a “childish” I often keep my fun comments to myself so people never get to know the real fun and silly me.

The modern social world is not built for us – but we are expected to fit into it like a puzzle piece. I am not a puzzle. I am a human, an Aspie. I’m not like you and shouldn’t have to be.

Trying to fake it is detrimental to my health and I can’t do it anymore.

#anonymouslyautistic #shecantbeautistic #actuallyautistic

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39 thoughts on “Autistic People Pretending to be Normal – Anonymously Autistic”

  1. Commenting “Bright lights!” in a Gizmo voice – one of my commonest little echolalia things too. 😎

    I so relate to this. I was in a big planning workshop thing at work this morning – stiflingly hot, crowded room, fluorescent lights, lots of people, no proper break (we were supposed to talk to people and fill in this ‘human bingo’ networking sheet on the break. Prize for the first person to complete the sheet by talking to as many different people as possible), construction noise outside, nonstop interaction.

    Half and hour before the end, I was starting to shake, I could feel myself on the verge of tears (and I think this was becoming visible to other people), so I had to leave.

    And for the first time EVER, I just said to the group of people on my table (none of whom I’d met before), “I’m sorry. I’m autistic, and I’m starting to get sensory overload. I going to have to leave now”.

    Not sure what they made of it. But I felt I had to just be honest.

    At some point I’ll actually stop feeling accompanying embarrassment, but being honest is a start…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. THIS IS AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been there at a networking event. Eventually I went to my manager crying because I felt like a failure for not being able to handle networking like my coworkers. This was pre-diagnosis. I was so embarrassed all I knew was I could not handle these situations and they were making me feel crazy. :-/

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Please be the fun and silly you, if not all the time then at least now and again. One of our attributes is an element of childishness and as I said before in one of my posts, being able to laugh at yourself is strength of character. I knew a guy that would not make jokes, and could not laugh at himself. He was the most pompous arrogant stuck-up little pr*** I’ve ever known. And he was always trying to intimidate other people. So I used to purposely make jokes at his expense. Gave me and everyone else a lot of fun, especially the ones that were scared of him. Go on, just be yourself. None of us know what your real name is, what you look like. Just be silly when you feel like it 🙂

    With regards introversion, wasn’t it Stephen Hawking who said “Quiet people have the loudest minds”? Some of the wisest people have been quiet, introverts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you SO much for all of your words and support. I truly appreciate the kindness. I am learning to live my life in the “real world” out as a “Neurodivergent”. I can’t keep pretending to be someone I am not – doctor’s orders. 😉

      Like

  3. Thank you for your honesty. I am not autistic — I have CFIDS/SEID — but sometimes have some of the same reactions to lights/noise/too-much-going-on you describe. Autistic friends have spoken about their difficulties being normal without my “getting it.” Here, you have been specific. Thanks to you, I am closer to understanding what it’s like to live with autism. (Do not mean to imply that my friends SHOULD have explained themselves better. It’s work to explain in a way someone else will understand — work on top of the work of being “normal” and impossible when one is already under a strain.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I know SPD can appear with quite a few other “conditions”. Now when someone tells me that “they gset the same thing sometimes” I always wonder if they have SPD too. I actually thiught (but did not say) the same thing to an Autistic woman once years ago before my diagnosis. I thought everyone went through it because I was Autistic. Lol. So I do try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think people with Autism need to be accepted as they are. My teenage boys have a couple older friends with Autism. We know that one of them needs to go home before dark. We know that one doesn’t drive. We know that we have to make sure we are very clear about times if we are going to get together. One of our Autistic friends came over the other day when we were eating, because the time was miscommunicated. No big deal; we invited him to sit with us, and he did. He conversed and made eye contact, and also told jokes that made us laugh. I know this was a huge feat, to sit with our entire family and engage, while waiting to go play music after dinner. I felt honored and humbled that he took the time to hang out with us, when I know social situations are more difficult for those who have Autism. But to us, that’s just part of our friend’s personality. I really like your blog. It helps me understand even more. God bless you. Everyone should be free to be who God created him or her to be! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m just going through your posts, I was diagnosed at 11 and despite my diagnosis people still didn’t believe me, others just avoided me or bullied me 😑
    Unfortunately I don’t think people are that clued up about what autism is whether there’s a diagnosis or not.
    Anyway good post! Keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing! That is EXACTLY why I started this blog. Because it us up to us Aspies to explain Autism to the world. We’ve let our parents and doctors speak for us for too long. They mean well but we have the first hand experience. “Right from the horses mouth” or Aspie’s mouth. Knowledge is the only thing that can help us so we have to share it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I couldn’t agree more! 🙂 I feel like it’s time to take back our disability, thank you for your blog, it’s nice to connect with a fellow aspie who actually wants to change the status quo 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this! I see many of these things in the girl living with us at the moment; she often wears hats indoors, works in low light, and has frequent headaches (part of that comes from a refusal to wear her reading glasses – I think she doesn’t like the feeling of them on her face). The more she can understand that she’s not alone in these things, the easier it will be for her to accept herself just the way she is!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anna, I agree that everybody (and that includes all NT people) have a public persona; i.e., a mask. So it doesn’t bother me that my public interface is a construct. When the mask drops (burnout) people are horrified by what they see. I prefer to keep up the mask.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to think my burnout was caused by illness. I didn’t even know I was having burnout (I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 60) but everybody told me I was just horrible when I was sick. Several months after my diagnosis I realized that when I’m ill I display a lot of autistic traits; I thought this meant the illness was bringing out the traits. After watching several YouTube videos on burnout, I realized I had it backwards; burnout was causing me to get sick. I can see the wisdom of not hiding autism (a lack of burnouts) but it’s hard to change habits (even for NT people).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I just reread my post. I’m not interested in changing my public persona, but I don’t see how that would be possible. I asked a YouTube vlogger how getting a diagnosis changed the way she hid her “quirks”; she said she isn’t hiding them anymore, but avoids situations that bring out her autistic traits – sounds impossible to follow. …but avoiding stressors sounds like a good idea.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I find my sense of humor different too.

    Autistic people have a harder time reciprocating. When a non-autistic person feels loved, is reciprocating automatic? Without thinking about it? I feel the need to be reminded of it and think there’s somewhat of an improvement. Maybe being unsure of the unwritten rules doesn’t help. Like concerns about giving gifts too much or frequently, staring instead of looking, sending too many text messages, complimenting too much, following too much, smiling too much, or giving the wrong type of smile (BTW, there’s more than one type of smile). Could we have a different love language?

    I think communication needs to be very clear for an autistic person. Questions and comments need to be translated so that they can understand them. Like being specific. Reasons for those rules can make it easier to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “When a non-autistic person feels loved, is reciprocating automatic? Without thinking about it? I feel the need to be reminded of it ” – I’ve had loved ones say I can be cold and don’t show my love well. This breaks my heart because, despite not showing it, my love is very deep.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. With autism, the disability isn’t as obvious but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no disability.

    I experimented with hearing protection. Sometimes, I need to wear earmuffs because it’s still too loud such as in a cafeteria, or my ears become sore from wearing ear plugs too long. The concern is that wearing earmuffs is too obvious. I notice that corrective lenses, canes, wheelchairs, and hearing aids are obvious too.

    With too much noise, I might zone out and look like I’m daydreaming even though I don’t really recall daydreaming. I rather be able to work. If it improves job performance, I don’t see a problem with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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