In June 2018, a collective of Autistic Autism activists began the #TakeTheMaskOff campaign on Twitter. The campaign highlights and problematises the expectation that Autistic people should ‘mask’ their Autistic traits and present as Neurotypical (non-Autistic) to achieve social inclusion.
Contemporary understandings of Autism are situated mainly within the Medical Model of disability, which understands Autism as a biologically disabling condition that poses its own barriers to social participation. The #TakeTheMaskOff campaign raises the questions: What are the social drivers of masking, and can they be conceptualised as oppressive social constructs which disable Autistic people through enforcing Neurotypical Normativity?
This study aims to address these issues through the Social Model of Disability, alongside Judith Butler’s theory of performativity. It explores whether masking may constitute a form of performative assimilation re ective of Neurotypical privilege and hegemony. Finally, it proposes a series of Best Practice Principals aimed at unmasking Autistic representation, and problematizing Autistic social, educational, and employment inequality.