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AuTalkz II - 008 - Masks by mdchan AuTalkz II - 008 - Masks by mdchan
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So, this comic actually touches upon two things (though, I hadn't intended on that).  My main point is the "mask" we put up, and then I realized that it also lightly touches upon taking things/expressions literally.

On the shorter note, and I'll definitely do something for real on the subject, people on the spectrum have difficulties distinguishing between normal tones and sarcasm.  There's also trouble understanding expressions (like "two birds with one stone"), allegory, and metaphors.

When I first heard the expression "apple of my eye", I pictured someone's eyes reflecting apples, for example.
When I had to read stories high on allegory and symbolism, it all went over my head.  "Watership Down" is one of my favorite novels, but I still don't pick up on the symbolism which is apparently in the novel.

I'll explain all that in further detail when I do a comic which actually delves more into the subject.  The main subject I was trying to explain with this comic is autism vs society.

Though these days there are slightly more allowances for someone autistic to "be themselves", and some of the habits and what-not are accepted a little better, it's not perfect.  When I was growing up, there was absolutely no accommodations/acceptance for autistic behavior unless one was severely autistic or had an intellectual disability or physical disability to go along with it.

Basically, then (and even now, though it's getting a little better), there's no place in society for me.  So, I had to don a mask and pretend to fit in once I graduated high school.
I had to pretend to be an independent adult...had to struggle with the overwhelming stimuli created by driving and running errands, be expected to act and function like a "proper" adult, and conform to society.

It was exhausting.

I'd get more tired doing a 20 minute trip (this includes the driving) to the supermarket than I would going to the rock gym for two hours, or going on a four hour hike.

Recently, all the demands got to be too much, and pushed me over the edge; I had what's apparently called a "burnout".
I was just too tired of trying to keep up with society's demands, my parents' demands, going out and-or socializing...
It got to a point where I thought I was becoming more autistic, because I suddenly lost the ability to do all those things (driving, doing shopping, etc); my senses would get overloaded much easier than before, and it was even harder to get motivated and stay focused than ever.
I often had to bring a "stim toy" with me (typically a plushie) to appointments because otherwise I'd start to freak out as every single dang waiting room seems intent on flooding their patients' eyes with fluorescent lighting while surrounded by white walls for it to bounce off of easier.

I'm still in that "burnout".  Granted, after pretending and wearing a mask for so long, and trying to live up to expectations and being forced to fit into society, I'm surprised I didn't have a burnout sooner.

Forcing someone who's autistic to fit in where they don't, or pushing them too hard, can eventually cause a burnout.
I'm still expected to put on that proverbial mask of mine whenever I go out somewhere.

It's worse with the label of "high functioning", because MORE is expected of you, so that mask has to be firmly in place and on almost constantly.
First hand, I can tell you right now that's not a good thing. 

I think it'd be great if we (those of us who are autistic) can make society realize what they're doing to us and in the very least, be allowed accommodations and acceptance so that we don't have to constantly wear a mask, or fail to fit in with their trials.
Why should we be forced to conform to society, when we didn't fit into those rules in the first place? 
It's really not right; what happened to "equality"?

I'm not saying be violent about it, but the more society learns just what their pressures do to us, the more they might realize that they stifle us.
If a normal person gets stressed out and pressured at their job, it's 100 times worse for someone on the spectrum who is trying to pretend to be that normal person.

Often times, employers don't realize they have someone on the spectrum as an employee; some employers won't even give someone a chance if they walk in with a job coach, or put down on their application that they need accommodations.
As a result, the mask is put on, and the pressure is tripled for us to be "normal" when we're clearly not.

People on the spectrum can bring a lot to the world.
However, if we're forced to conform to society, all of that is suppressed.  There could be geniuses in their own subjects under those masks, unable to do anything with it because society forces us to keep those masks on.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't need to wear masks to fit in; we'd be accepted for who we are, quirks and all.

If you like this artwork and wish to help support me in doing them, please take a look at my patreon page at
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TheSpiritualPainter Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is so true, Nikki.


I just did a painting that shows how it is for me.
whovianfangirl23 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2017  Student Writer
crap hes right 
Storozhevoy75 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
"Society, thou art a heartless witch."

It's my understanding that those of us on the spectrum are a minority group wherever we go, Society feels that they don't have to make any real adjustments to accommodate us. Instead they pump us full of drugs and expect us to conform to whatever unholy rules they've come up with.

This is why I believe our people need a homeland of our own: Aspergia :).
StaceyJulAlexandria Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
I know how you feel Nikki. I"m in the exact same boat as you. It's so frustrating.
VaatiMccloud Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
If you leave my mask out there, something horrible will happen
mdchan Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
I liked OoT better than Majora's to be honest; the 3-day time cycle and constantly going back was difficult (and often annoying) to adjust to for me.
VaatiMccloud Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I honestly think that Oot was better as well because I think it was more structurally sound(mainly the dungeons) 
DarkVikingMistress Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2017  Student Writer
:( (Sad) wow man, deep stuff. I hope you're doing ok.
XxPastAndPresentxX Featured By Owner May 31, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
My mom says I need to be more social.

But really, who needs a whole society when you have a small group of friends who are similar to you?
mdchan Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
I've always preferred a small group to a larger one.
XxPastAndPresentxX Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
StaceyJulAlexandria Featured By Owner May 4, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
this comic has much truth to it
mdchan Featured By Owner May 7, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
matt-flameboymallon Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2016
That's one way to depict a shy guy.
mdchan Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
I didn't even notice that.  XD
ThePeasantQueen Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2015
I have Asperger syndrome, and when I was about 3 my mum said it was raining cats and dogs outside. I looked out the window, and was pretty disappointed to find that it wasn't actually raining cats and dogs, at least not in the literal sense! And I had the same thing with the "apple of their eye" thing when I was older, except I pictured a very tiny apple stuck in someone's eye and often wondered how it had got in there, and why that could possibly be a good thing, or relate to a person in any way. It took me ages to just accept the fact that it was just a figure of speech which, to this day, still makes absolutely no sense to me xD
The-Quill-Warrior Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I think symbolism goes over my head as well. When I think of the "apple of my eye", I also literally think of apples. Or maybe it's got to do with the fact that I don't know what most allegories mean.
In fact, I can't even tell if you're being literal and that you actually do don a mask when you go outside, or if you're using symbolism.
That's not your fault, I'm... just an idiot. ^^;

It sucks being in a burnout. Hopefully you'll get out of yours sometime soon. :D

Equality can't happen overnight. Things do seem to be slightly getting better, so hopefully the full understanding of autism by the general consensus will happen soon.
seratum Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015
I know that it's hard to put a mask on. But I don't have autism so i can only imagine how hard it has to be for you.
I really hope that society one day realizes they can't just treat "people who are different" differently. Everyone should be treated equally.*
And everyone should have the freedom to act how they want to. (As Long as there are not hurting anyone etc.. ^^)

You thought that you would become more Autistic. Is becoming "more Autistic" really possible oO?
I'm sorry to hear about your burnout. I hope you will be able to completely recover soon ^^

*Except for Takumi.. (Sorry xD)
Strange-Argument Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Man, I can relate to this a lot. The stress of driving and running errands are hard to explain to anyone who just does them as part of their routine day. I've never met anyone else who has had such trouble with these things, so its comforting to be reminded there are other people who feel the same. I hope you are able to recover from your "burnout" and that others will learn to lighten the pressure. :pancakeglomp: 

My "mask" was a pretty thick one because through high school I could get good grades and ignore the more social aspects of school, while my teachers were none the wiser. But it started to crack in college where I had to pretend to "have my life together." I made no effort to get into "college life," but the daily commute and navigating a large campus through a sea of strangers were draining enough on their own. I managed to get a part time job on campus that would give me some accommodation, but then management changed and I had to leave because of the stress. I was very close to "burnout" my last year but managed to graduate with the support of my family :sighs:  Since then I've just been focusing on recovery. It's nice to not feel sick and terrified all the time I am a dummy! 
xelaalex Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015
For me I just hide myself behind the music I listen to. Listening to music allows me to block out most outside influences and people don't seem to mind (even when I'm at a checkout) and I feel a lot less pressured. I don't know how this behaviour will be seen once I move to Singapore, though. I definitely like that quote from you though, "Why should we be forced to conform to society, when we didn't fit into those rules in the first place?" So true, I wish people would just appreciate us for who we are...

landonbay Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
And I was portrayed as a sociopath by others with a "mask"
mdchan Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Say what?
landonbay Featured By Owner Edited Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
others portrayed me as a Sociopath for trying to mask myself, to blend in (I am not a Sociopath as far as I know)

what I am saying is, regardless of whether or not I wore a societal mask, I was bullied, and made fun of. nothing changed.
instead of hiding who we are, we in the Autism community need to let others know that the real us are fun to be around
ShyGigyas Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Student General Artist
I was looked at the same way, and I knew legit sociopaths before, they were complete monsters behind closed doors.
landonbay Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
and I have friends who are Sociopaths and Psychopaths.
some are monsters, but not all of them, in fact I met some that said things I agreed with.
but my issue with being portrayed as one, they used the assumption that Autistics are Sociopaths and Psychopaths (which is not true at all)
If I got out of my seat to walk around (which was allowed) people would ask to be excused because "they were afraid that they were going to be killed", The fact that the would call me "Crazy" or a "Psycho".

for the record, everyone has Sociopathic traits, but that does not make one a Sociopath
ShyGigyas Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015  Student General Artist
Depends on how they're executed
landonbay Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
that and many other factors
lopsidelibby Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Another sad truth is that a perfect world isn't achievable. This here can be worked on, but the progress this kind of thing has is painfully slow. I rather be frozen for 100 years than live though less than that. 
mdchan Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
I'd rather see some progress than none.  Even if the culmination of that progress isn't seen in my lifetime, I'd at least like to hope that someday, the "rules of society" can be flexible enough so people with autism can be themselves rather than it never changing.

I mean, just look at how long it took for black people to get rights, and for women to gain rights...not to mention the LGBT community!  Those are fights that were years and years in the making, spanning across decades!  I might not see it happen in my lifetime, but if I can help get people on the right direction, or get them thinking enough to also try to help out to make it happen, then maybe one day there will be a huge victory at the end of the road even if I'm not around to see it.
Drakohahn Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015
Ugh, I really hated that growing up.
mdchan Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Yea.  School was quite honestly just as bad as the adult world...perhaps even worse.  Nobody really cared in elementary school, because "kids will be kids" (at least, when I was growing up, minus an ADD/ADHD craze; these days, if a kid is acting like a kid by running around and having trouble sitting still, they must have ADHD...and if a kid is shy and withdrawn, they must have autism.  It's actually scary).
But come middle and high school, the behaviors were much more apparent, and the other kids filled the role of society's harsh judge.
Drakohahn Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2015
That brings up way too many bad memories, especially with some people who were probably laughing at me because their antics generally flew right over my head.
Karmakat01 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
pretty much what everyone expect people to do

act to their standards...i know i keep fighting to be me sincerely.
and i hate when some THEIR idea of me...
mdchan Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
That's the worst, I gotta agree...when people get it in their minds what sort of person they want you to be, and try to mold you that way.  Or, grasp at something they liked of your behavior (or a particular "proper" behavior which occasionally comes through) and chase ghosts of the past.
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