Masking? Or camouflaging?

What’s the difference? Or are they the same thing?

By John Counsel

In discussions about Aspie behaviour — especially social behaviour when with Neurotypical people — several different verbs are often used. The two most common are “masking” and “camouflaging”. Since common use can blur the distinctions between these terms, here are more precise definitions taken from leading dictionaries…



1       a covering for all or part of the face, in particular…
  • a covering worn as a disguise, or to amuse or terrify other people.
  • a covering made of fiber or gauze and fitting over the nose and mouth to protect against dust or air pollutants, or made of sterile gauze and worn to prevent infection of the wearer or (in surgery) of the patient.
  • a protective covering fitting over the whole face, worn in fencing, ice hockey, and other sports.
  • a respirator used to filter inhaled air or to supply gas for inhalation.
  • (also masque) a cosmetic preparation spread over the face and left for some time to cleanse and improve the skin.
  • Entomology the enlarged lower lip of a dragonfly larva, which can be extended to seize prey.

2       a likeness of a person’s face in clay or wax, especially one made by taking a mould
from the face.

  • a person’s face regarded as having set into a particular expression : his face was a mask of rage.
  • a hollow model of a human head worn by ancient Greek and Roman actors.
  • the face or head of an animal, esp. of a fox, as a hunting trophy.
  • archaic a masked person.

3       figurative a disguise or pretense : she let her mask of moderate respectability slip.

4       Photography a piece of something, such as a card, used to cover a part of an image
that is not required when exposing a print.

  • Electronics a patterned metal film used in the manufacture of microcircuits to allow selective modification of the underlying material.

verb [ trans. ]

cover (the face) with a mask.

  • conceal (something) from view : the poplars masked a factory.
  • disguise or hide (a sensation or quality) : brandy did not completely mask the bitter taste.
  • cover (an object or surface) so as to protect it from a process, esp. painting : mask off doors and cupboards with sheets of plastic.



the disguising of military personnel, equipment, and installations by painting or covering them to make them blend in with their surroundings : on the trenches were pieces of turf, which served for camouflage | [as adj. ] camouflage nets.

  • the clothing or materials used for such a purpose : figures dressed in army camouflage.
  • an animal’s natural coloring or form that enables it to blend in with its surroundings : the whiteness of polar bears provides camouflage.
  • figurative actions or devices intended to disguise or mislead : much of my apparent indifference was merely protective camouflage.

verb [ trans. ] (often be camouflaged)

hide or disguise the presence of (a person, animal, or object) by means of camouflage : the war area had to be camouflaged with mud | figurative grievances should be discussed, not camouflaged.

Personally, I consider either term — masking or camouflage — applies to Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome if only because of the levels of intense stress and anxiety created by both. Everyday life spent trying to blend in amongst Neurotypical people — in the community, at work, at school and pre-school, in social gatherings — is akin to war-time conditions and, in times of peace, is like clandestine espionage for those trying to mask or camouflage their neurological divergence.

Is it any wonder that Aspies arrive home, at the end of a typical day, in a state of anxiety that makes them ready to explode over the Stress Threshold into Neural Overload?

Read more:   Anti-Aspie Propaganda on your Television

©2019 John Counsel. All rights reserved.

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