Understanding the Reasons, Contexts and Costs of Camouflaging for Autistic Adults

J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 May;49(5):1899-1911. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-03878-x.


Camouflaging entails 'masking' in or 'passing' social situations. Research suggests camouflaging behaviours are common in autistic people, and may negatively impact mental health. To enhance understanding of camouflaging, this study examined reasons, contexts and costs of camouflaging. 262 autistic people completed measures of camouflaging behaviours, camouflaging contexts (e.g. work vs. family), camouflaging reasons (e.g. to make friends) and mental health symptoms. Findings indicated a gender difference in reasons for camouflaging, with autistic women more likely to endorse "conventional" reasons (e.g. getting by in formal settings such as work). Both camouflaging highly across contexts and 'switching' between camouflaging in some contexts but not in others, related to poorer mental health. These findings have implications for understanding camouflaging in autistic adults.

Keywords: Autistic adults; Camouflaging; Gender differences; Mental health; Wellbeing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*