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Part of the reason I understand my internal processes is because that side was hidden for so long. My emotions muted massively when I masked and I reacted to situations without ever knowing why. I also wasn’t able to unmask until I accepted myself (which really wasn’t easy) masking continuously for 38 years. I love my wife very very deeply however I didn’t feel anything when I got married. I knew, absolutely, it was the right decision but emotions were missing. In fact I really wasn’t aware I could feel emotions as strongly as I can and I think that was all impact from masking long term. When I had my assessment my mask was slipping and I was showing through. On the day I was physically shaking, hands clenched and my emotions were like a bouncy ball thrown in to a very small room. Where I think women and girls are different is masking becomes a temporary coping strategy. Worn when necessary, but not a constant. So when assessed that masking strategy can kick in. Therefore allowing less of the authentic self to show through. The lack of genuine information means the assessment itself is looking for a very small part of the bigger picture, a narrow view. Therefore autistic people will be assessed, leave and still go without an answer. Not feeling you can be yourself yet plus masking plus just the pressure of the whole thing. Unfortunately women seem to pay the price for that. One of the websites I share a lot is the Scottish woman’s Autism Network. It’s a highly recommended resource regardless of your location - Getting a diagnosis wasn’t heartbreaking for me, it was freeing. It allowed me to become so much more authentic, have my genuine identity instead of a perceptional one. Masking was like being in a visiting booth in prison. I could talk, but not really. Felt like I had to act in a certain way and follow all rules, despite not always understanding why. Was defensive constantly and protective of my isolation because it didn’t feel safe, but it did feel safer. Torn between a need for human connection and a need to feel more protected. Instincts always on high alert, even when alone, but especially around people. And no one knew... not even me. Please feel free to share any of my posts and please like or follow to be notified of future posts. All the best Ross Words – Ross A Fraser Graphic Design App – Canva #NewLifeAutistic

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