This is the internet weblog of Bix Frankonis.

C. M. Condo offers up something of an excruciating look at the costs of masking and camouflaging as an autistic person—demonstrating why I’m so mad at Eric Fombonne of OHSU.

The spoon analogy, used a lot in psychology circles, contends that everyone starts the day with a certain number of spoons of energy. Those of us on the spectrum, or with other neurodivergencies, have to pull a few spoons from what would normally be expended on typical life things, like working, to manage their neurodivergence. When I started masking my autism, over twenty years ago, my strategies were pretty basic and didn’t require more than a single spoon or two.

Now, however, a lot, if not most, of my spoons go to my neurotypical performance and managing the stress of being on a neurotypical environment. It’s no wonder that I can’t work for more than a few hours a day. In fact, seen in this light, it’s amazing that I can work at all. As I have become more and more employable, and more and more sought after, I have less and less left in me to enjoy these privileges.

Whatever sorts of camouflage I wore unknowingly prior to my diagnosis (and I’ve talked before about the degree to which some of my circumstances happenstantially allowed me to avoid it to some degree), now that I know I’m autistic I outright refuse to mask or camouflage barring some dramatic reason why.

That’s going impact things such as my employability, much as it did before I knew I was autistic and my autistic obstacles weren’t being addressed through accommodations or mitigations. Arguably, some of those unsuccessful work attempts might have been due to the psychic costs of camouflaging in work environments to which my neurology simply wasn’t suited.

Condo’s personal story exemplifies why I was so miffed at OSHU’s Eric Fombonne for suggesting that autistic camouflaging is no different than wearing lifts because one is short: there’s no real psychic cost to that type of accommodation of one’s own (real or perceived) disability or disadvantage.

This simply is not true for autistic camouflaging, and Condo’s story, alas, shows that.