Leone Centre Glossary

Masking in Neurodiversity-affirmative Therapy


In neurodiversity-affirmative therapy, masking is an important concept to understand. Masking refers to the conscious or unconscious suppression of one’s neurodivergent traits to fit into societal norms. This behaviour is often a response to external pressures and can lead to significant emotional and psychological strain. Masking involves adapting behaviours to appear neurotypical. This can include mimicking social behaviours, hiding stimming, or avoiding certain topics.

Challenges explained

Masking is often misunderstood or overlooked in therapy, leading to miscommunication and stress for neurodivergent individuals. Understanding masking helps in creating a more supportive therapeutic environment.

Impact on individuals

While masking can help neurodivergent individuals in social situations, it can also lead to burnout, anxiety, and a diminished sense of self. Recognising and addressing masking in therapy is essential for promoting well-being.

Therapeutic approaches

Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy encourages authentic self-expression and reduces the need for masking. Therapists focus on creating a safe space where neurodivergent traits are accepted and valued.

Common questions

What is masking in neurodiversity-affirmative therapy?
Masking involves suppressing neurodivergent traits to conform to societal expectations. It is a tool used by many neurodivergent individuals to confidently approach social situations.
Why do neurodivergent individuals mask?
Neurodivergent individuals may mask to avoid negative social judgement, to fit in, or to avoid conflict. It can be a response to societal pressures to appear neurotypical.
How can therapy help with masking?
Therapy can provide a safe space for neurodivergent individuals to express their authentic selves. Therapists can work with clients to reduce the need for masking by encouraging self-acceptance and challenging societal norms.


  1. Hull, L., Petrides, K. V., Allison, C., Smith, P., Baron-Cohen, S., Lai, M.-C., & Mandy, W. (2017). “Putting on My Best Normal”: Social Camouflaging in Adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(8), 2519-2534
  2. Cook, J., Hull, L., Crane, L., & Mandy, W. (2021). Camouflaging in an everyday social context: An interpersonal recall study. Autism, 25(1), 228-240
Book Now

Get Started Today
with Leone Centre

Book Now


Call Us

Call us
020 3930 1007

View therapists

View our therapists
Find your match

This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision