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Masking in the Work Place – Costs and Benefits


People engage in masking for various reasons. Firstly, it's often a means of survival in a world that prioritises conformity and social norms. Neurodiverse individuals may mask to avoid discrimination, ridicule, or exclusion in the workplace. Additionally, there's a desire to build and maintain professional relationships, which can be challenging when communication styles and social cues differ between neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals. Masking may also stem from a lack of awareness or understanding of one's neurodiversity, leading individuals to believe that they must mimic neurotypical behaviour to be accepted and successful in their careers.


However, the implications and impacts of masking can be significant. While it may help neurodiverse adults navigate social interactions and professional environments more smoothly, it often comes at a cost to their mental health and well-being. Masking requires a tremendous amount of cognitive and emotional energy, leading to exhaustion, burnout, and increased stress levels. Over time, this can contribute to anxiety, depression, and feelings of alienation or disconnection from others.


Moreover, masking can hinder the authentic expression of one's talents, skills, and perspectives in the workplace. By concealing their true selves, neurodiverse individuals may struggle to fully utilise their unique strengths and contributions, ultimately impacting their job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities.


In essence, while masking may provide temporary relief from the challenges of navigating a neurotypical-centric world, it ultimately perpetuates a cycle of invisibility and self-denial for neurodiverse adults in the workplace. Building a more inclusive and accommodating work environment that celebrates neurodiversity and promotes acceptance without the need for masking is essential for fostering the well-being and success of all employees.

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