Does Intention Lead to Success? Social Camouflaging in Autistic Girls

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
L. Hull1, K. V. Petrides2 and W. Mandy1, (1)University College London, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, (2)London Psychometric Laboratory, London, United Kingdom
Background: Social camouflaging (the use of compensation or masking strategies to minimise autistic characteristics during social interactions) has recently come to attention as a behaviour common in autistic women and girls. Qualitative research has suggested that social camouflaging strategies may result in missed or late diagnosis for autistic girls, in addition to poor mental health outcomes resulting from the effort required to camouflage successfully. Previous research into camouflaging has focused on the observable strategies used mostly by adults; no research has yet compared autistic girls’ intentions to camouflage with the success of their attempts.

Objectives: To test a recently developed measure of self-reported camouflaging and compare this to other measures of camouflaging, including a measure of camouflaging success, amongst autistic teenage girls. Questions of interest: Do autistic girls report camouflaging at similar levels to autistic women? Is self-reported camouflaging related to objective social skills?

Methods: Approximately 60 autistic girls aged 13-19 will be included in the final sample. Multiple measures of camouflaging are used, including the newly developed and validated Social Camouflaging in Autism Questionnaire, and the discrepancy between an individual’s internal experience of autism and their external presentation. Success of camouflaging is measured through blinded observer ratings of autistic girls’ sociability and likeability during a social interaction in which they camouflage.

Results: Data collection is ongoing; however, we expect to find that autistic girls report relatively high levels of camouflaging, and that their camouflaging is on the whole successful. In these preliminary results we also report on the relationship between different measures of camouflaging, and how age and cognitive abilities affect camouflaging extent and success

Conclusions: This is the first known study to examine the relationship between different measures of social camouflaging and its impact on the social skills of autistic girls. Reflections on the extent and success of camouflaging strategies in autistic girls will be discussed. Camouflaging is an important behaviour amongst autistic girls and should be considered during diagnosis and by other services when considering support requirements.