Autistic Masking as Performance Art

One odd autist’s odd observation…

Dissociation has this advantage…

I’ve come to enjoy the sound of my own voice.

I’d like to let you in on this peculiar, personal joy.

Let’s start with…

Various things have led me to a perpetual state of self-loathing. Can’t stand to look in a mirror… Can’t easily look at photos of me… Video can start dry heaves…

My voice? An overwhelming revulsion.


My life has led me to states of dissociation, various methods… at first, involuntary… of tuning out from reality.

As in a defense from a variety of abuses and trauma… that tend to lead some folks like me to experience mysteries such as…

Unexplained gaps in time…

Sudden snappings back to consciousness, say an hour from home with no memory of how you got there… driving a car…

Hearing words echo in the room… only to realize they are in your voice…

Watching events unfold as if done to somebody else… or by somebody else…

Black outs, and, among other things,…

Adoption of personas.

One co-morbidity of mine, a diagnosis of dissociative disorder NOS.

The psychiatrist issuing it told me that I met the old criteria for “multiple,” but the diagnosis was “no longer in fashion.”

But part of my experience doesn’t fit “multiple personality” or alters.

I have a fair amount of conscious control over the different mannerisms, word choice, appearance, etc.  Like what I’ve read about method acting.

Call it cosplay… walking around town in character(s). I actually dress like the “pretend rock star” I, um… pretend to be. Black clothes. Black sunglasses. Mohawk. At 67.

Even if I have… forgotten… from time to time in my life…. that I am “in character.” For long periods of time.

I suspect it is simply me masking as an autistic person. Just as many, many autistic folks report not realizing, before diagnosis, that they had “masked” their entire life… mimicking & adopting character traits that let them pass as “normal” (neurotypical). Many, like me, actually practicing in front of mirrors… without realizing it was… “different.”

I’ve come to conclude that I simply have a wardrobe FULL of masks. Maybe others do too. And I just haven’t gotten the memo yet…

What has all that got to do with my voice…?

My voice IRL tends to be stage-y. As if I’m a character on TV, or professor giving a lecture, or talk show host….

You know. False.

But here’s the deal. Over the last few years since #LateDiagnosis of autism at 63, I’ve given my self permission to talk out loud to myself.

At first, I tried to stop inhibiting the impulse when I was alone. But gradually, in front of my wife, when I shop in a store,…

What a relief!

Something about putting my thoughts through my vocal-processing brain centers helps me focus, think critically, and REMEMBER…

My thoughts.

And… gradually… I’ve become accustomed to hearing my voice.

And last week, I didn’t feel nauseated as I watched a video of my wife Kimmie & me playing music together.

And then this morning…

I thought, “That’s a rather soothing, pleasant voice,” as I lectured to myself about putting away the dishes Kimmie washed.

And it’s possible…

That I finally short-circuited the internal self-loathing…

Because I talk in character.

Mildly dissociated.

So I was not enjoying MY voice. That’s forbidden to this self-loather.

I was enjoying his voice. Which IS permitted.

And then I began…

Enjoying MY voice.

What a remarkable day.


Designing My Home Around Adult Autism: Pt. 2 – 7 Survival Principles #AutisticAF Out Loud

  1. Designing My Home Around Adult Autism: Pt. 2 – 7 Survival Principles
  2. Designing My Home Around Autism: Pt. 1 – Making It Work for Me
  3. Inside Autism & Eye Contact: How It Feels… How to Deal with the Terror s2e6
  4. Fanning the Flames: #AutisticJoy in the Classroom – Intersectional Infinity Conference s02e05
  5. Selective Mutism: I Have No Mouth. But I Must SCREAM… s2e4

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