The mask of autism: Social camouflaging and impression management as coping/normalization from the perspectives of autistic adults

Iris Schneid, Aviad E. Raz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Autism entails impression management, including social camouflaging, under conditions of conflict and stigma, with reduced ability to perform such social interaction as well as an increased toll that accompanies it. To examine the meanings of impression management and social camouflaging from the point-of-view of autistic people, we conducted a participatory study that included semi-structured interviews with 24 Israeli autistic adults in 2017–2018. We present views on the difference between camouflaging and impression management; impression management as a social asset; the ambivalence of camouflaging; the limits of impression management; and autistic forms of social communication that provide an alternative to impression management and camouflaging. These perspectives are discussed as leading from prioritizing social integration to prioritizing autistic empowerment. We further explore how the stigma of autism is turned, through camouflaging, into the mask of autism, offering to deconstruct the neurotypical premises of academically-approved concepts of socialization and impression management. Emancipatory participative research thus provides a unique opportunity not only to sociologically explore the deeper contours of “social disability” but also the “disabilities of sociology”, offering directions for the neuro-diversification of sociology, in parallel with the recent thrust of building a “sociology of autism".

Original languageEnglish
Article number112826
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume248
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Impression management
  • Israel
  • Neuro-diversity
  • Social camouflaging
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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