Brief Report: Does Autistic Community Connectedness Moderate the Relationship Between Masking and Wellbeing?



Cage E, Cranney R & Botha M (2022) Brief Report: Does Autistic Community Connectedness Moderate the Relationship Between Masking and Wellbeing?. Autism in Adulthood.

Background: Masking involves blending in or covering a stigmatized identity, to avoid discrimination and to “pass” within society. Autistic people often report masking, both intentionally and unintentionally, to get by in social situations. Autistic people who report high rates of masking also tend to experience poorer mental health. It is important we understand whether there are variables that can protect against the negative effects of masking. One such potential variable is autistic community connectedness (ACC)—being part of and belonging to the autistic community. Past research suggests there are benefits for autistic people socially connecting with other autistic people. We investigated whether ACC could moderate the relationship between masking and wellbeing. Methods: One hundred ninety-six autistic people completed an online survey including measures of ACC, masking, and mental wellbeing. We used moderation analysis to test whether ACC acted as a buffer between masking and wellbeing. Results: Higher self-reported masking related to poorer mental wellbeing. Higher ACC related to more positive wellbeing. Higher ACC correlated with more masking. However, there was no interaction effect, and ACC did not moderate the relationship between masking and wellbeing. Conclusions: Although ACC did relate to more positive mental wellbeing overall, it did not moderate the negative relationship between masking and wellbeing. If masking relates to the prejudice faced by autistic people, those with greater attachment to the autistic community may also be more aware of discrimination against their community. Furthermore, autistic people who are more connected might experience a higher salience of masking when moving between autistic and nonautistic settings. Tackling prejudice toward autistic people is critical in helping to reduce the negative effects associated with masking, and we must endeavor to change perceptions and increase inclusion of autistic people.

masking; camouflaging; autistic community; stigma; mental wellbeing

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Autism in Adulthood

StatusIn Press
Publication date online23/06/2022
Date accepted by journal16/05/2022
PublisherMary Ann Liebert Inc

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Dr Monique Botha

Dr Monique Botha

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Psychology

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