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Commentary: ‘Camouflaging’ in autistic people – reflection on Fombonne (2020)

Lai, Meng-Chuan, Hull, Laura, Mandy, William, Chakrabarti, Bhismadev, Nordahl, Christine Wu, Lombardo, Michael V., Ameis, Stephanie H., Szatmari, Peter, Baron-Cohen, Simon, Happé, Francesca and Livingston, Lucy Anne ORCID: 2021. Commentary: ‘Camouflaging’ in autistic people – reflection on Fombonne (2020). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 62 (8) , pp. 1037-1041. 10.1111/jcpp.13344

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Fombonne’s (2020) editorial is a thought‐provoking appraisal of the literature on ‘camouflaging’, whereby some autistic people mask or compensate for their autistic characteristics as an attempt to fit in and to cope with disabilities under neurotypical social norms. Fombonne (2020) highlights three issues of contention: (a) construct validity and measurement of camouflaging; (b) camouflaging as a reason for late autism diagnosis in adolescence/adulthood; and (c) camouflaging as a feature of the ‘female autism phenotype’. Here, we argue that (a) establishing construct validity and measurement of different aspects of camouflaging is warranted; (b) subjective experiences are important for the differential diagnosis of autism in adolescence/adulthood; and (c) camouflaging is not necessarily a feature of autism in female individuals – nevertheless, taking into account sex and gender influences in development is crucial to understand behavioural manifestations of autism. Future research and clinical directions should involve clarification of associated constructs and measurements, demography, mechanisms, impact (including harms and benefits) and tailored support.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0021-9630
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 December 2020
Date of Acceptance: 29 November 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 15:52

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