The Invisible Challenge: the art of camouflaging autism In Females

, , Leave a comment

Autistic females, expert at camouflaging autism

Navigating the world of autism, particularly in women, involves unraveling a unique set of challenges. This goes beyond stereotypes, delving into the art of camouflaging autism, where individuals strive to fit into societal expectations while concealing their autistic traits.

The Struggle to Blend In

It’s known that diagnosing women with autism is more challenging than diagnosing men. This is believed to be because women tend to “camouflage” their diagnosis, blending into society in a more discreet manner than men. This camouflaging autism is making diagnosis trickier than in their male counterparts.

Navigating Higher Demands

There is no evidence showing that women, in general, are better at camouflaging autism than men. However studies suggest that autistic women may feel a stronger urge to camouflage their traits due to societal expectations, which often place more demanding standards on female behavior compared to male behavior.

The Price of Blending In

As autism is strongly associated with stereotypical male behavior, such as social isolation, limited interests, and repetitive movements, autistic women may experience a higher degree of stigma and invisibility. To fit into social contexts, they may need to exert more effort in hiding their autistic traits and conforming to societal expectations.

Unveiling the Techniques

Autistic individuals employ various strategies to camouflage autism. From mimicking social behaviors to leveraging special interests, each technique comes with its own set of challenges.

  • “Social Mimicry”
    • Learning to mimic social behaviors, such as making eye contact, smiling, and using appropriate body language, to fit into social situations. However, this can be mentally exhausting.
  • “Rule Memorization”
    • Memorizing social rules helps navigate social scenarios, but it can be limiting, especially in new or unexpected social scenarios.
  • “Special Interest Integration”
    • Using special interests to facilitate social interaction, leveraging knowledge about a specific subject to engage in conversations or find common interests. Yet, handling conversations outside their special interests can be challenging.
  • “Delayed Communication”
    • Having delayed communication, taking longer to respond to questions or process information. To conceal this, they may provide short answers or repeat what the other person has said until they have had enough time to think and respond.

A Personal Encounter

I only have one personal example of a person who I’m now quite sure had autism. She concealed it well, having already lived a long and fulfilling life with many experiences when I got to know her. It’s only in recent years that I’ve started to reflect on her autistic traits and how clear they actually were. She was an amazing person with, among other special interests, knowledge about every birthday, who was married to whom, and the entire family tree in the surrounding villages. Her incredible knowledge about the people around her was truly remarkable, and sometimes I wondered if she had savant-like qualities. She stimmed in secret, just like my son does, she was very thoughtful, and it was evident how she genuinely thought about what can and cannot be said. When you managed to surprise her, her direct manner suddenly became incredibly clear. Her way of speaking always seemed thoughtful, but with patience, you usually received well-thought-out answers.

That she would be different was probably something no one had considered during her lifetime. But today, with my limited knowledge of autism and diagnoses, I’m pretty sure she would fall within the spectrum if someone attempted to diagnose her. She lived most of her life without “problems,” but I believe that’s a result of her skill in camouflaging her autistic traits. To get a diagnosis, you need to have problems, and I can’t say whether she had any.

Unraveling a Diagnostic Dilemma

But perhaps that’s where many miss a detail. One of the diagnostic criteria is actually that you should have problems. If you’re so good at camouflaging your “diagnosis,” maybe you don’t have any problems in everyday life. Everyday problems only arise when you fail to camouflage your shortcomings. Maybe that’s why I received my diagnosis in adulthood, when I had a family, and the energy and everyday stress were affected enough to cause problems. Before I met my wife and started a family, I managed to camouflage my autism well enough so that my “problems” weren’t more significant than I could live without significant consequences.

Now, why am I interested in the question? Perhaps because I’ve realized that I’ve been trying to blend into the crowd and camouflage my traits. I haven’t been particularly successful in that purpose always, but I think that if I ask some of my friends, they have no idea that I could have a diagnosis. Today, I lack the energy and desire to try to be someone I’m not. An active decision that, in the long run, usually makes me feel better. However, I have a new strategy. When I’m in a new environment among new people, unlike before, I try to keep a low profile and feel my way into the new group where I can take my place and decide who I want to be friends with. It might be a kind of camouflage as well, but it has given me a different sense of calm in recent year


In conclusion, the concept of camouflaging autism, especially in women, sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals in fitting into societal norms. The ability to mask autistic traits is a coping mechanism that can bring both advantages and drawbacks. Understanding and acknowledging these nuances is crucial for fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Do you have any personal encounters of camouflaging autism? Please feel free to leave a comment.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.