Autistic masking, camouflaging, or compensating is a conscious or unconscious suppression of natural autistic responses. It is hiding or controlling behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that may be viewed as inappropriate misunderstandings in situations. Autistic people may feel the need to present or perform social behaviors that we consider neurotypical or may hide neurodiverse behaviors to be accepted and fit in.
An autistic person may mask to avoid being ousted or harassed at school or the workplace. Though there might seem to be short-term benefits of masking, including increased social acceptance and less stigma, it can help a person feel safe from aggression, but there are negative effects of masking, as this act of self-preservation takes a toll on self-esteem and self-identity. Masking can contribute to autistic burnout, which occurs when the challenges of life exceed a person's resources. It can lead to serious physical and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.