The Autistic Mime: Faking Normal or “Masking”

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker

The Art of Autism PRESENTS “Mime Project: Masking”

By Kimberly Gerry-Tucker

I challenge you to 8 minutes of silence. In today’s fast paced world, this approx. 8 minute video may seem like too much commitment.

It’s probably longish, it’s message has probably been said before, and the ‘poem’ needs work, sure, but it IS relevant to so many autistic folks and/or selective mutes like me who have felt the need for personas just to… fake a normal. Or…what is perceived as normal, that is… Oh: Most importantly, it is heartfelt.

Thanks to Silas Gonzalez for helping me with the short film. “Faking normal,” or uh, not being “out” about diagnosis, is a way to feel part of things, or a way to blend in, or to land a job, mix with a clique etc. This masking is against the grain. It hurts too much. When will everyone unmask? Probably when it feels safe to “simply be.”

No judging.

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker is an artist, QA tester, and writer. She is the author of Under The Banana Moon, living, loving, loss and aspergers/selective mutism. She resides in Connecticut with her pets and significant other Al and serves on the board for The Art of Autism nonprofit.

1 Comment

  • Dashing around with a new me on… an old new me on — the studio’s all fresh and new again and I am eager to paint and draw. So I watched and muted the sound on your rather excellent YouTube video — and muted me for 8 minutes. And I listened and allowed my eyes to become my ears…

    It took me a long time to come to the realization of masks Kimberly — most of my life, before, I realized I was doing it now for well on six decades or more — to tell you truth I thought one learned personality and character, not realizing I already had one that was just fine. It was the world that was wrong not me.

    People who I wanted to be friends with, to have relationships with were so liked by others; some were the life of the party. Handsome or beautiful and everyone wanted to know them — wanted to spend time with them…and I wanted to be so normal with that fatal flaw, that shard like glass at the center of me.

    I wanted to be liked by them…

    ” […] I don’t care if it hurts
    I wanna have control
    I want a perfect body
    I want a perfect soul
    I want you to notice
    When I’m not around […]

    Creep lyrics – Radiohead

    All you communicate I have been Kimberly, and more, it was these symptoms of dysfunction or different function that informed my self-diagnosis. Masking is a very hard habit to break. The more lonely one is the more varied and expert the mask maker I presume. I am…brilliant at it. In fact, you might say I am a true artist of it. I should take the show on the road. I should write a play about it.

    One must be vigilant every second to notice subtly what I have taught myself over a lifetime. It was this discovery — this painful discovery, that caused me to mistrust that I was really an artist, and not simply masking being an artist. I even questioned my feelings for others constantly. I still fight with that but have been a creative person my whole life, and so, in the end, what I speak about ‘is’ creativity at its best.

    Discovery was painful beyond explanation Kimberly, to discover that the reason you were so enthused about an acting career was that I was very good at it.

    I live in a very small town now, the pariah at the edges of the real, and so, I still do it because I notice when people come near and speak to me without my reply, I am fine — and then I speak and I notice at the speed of light a look come to their faces — a look that I have seen ten thousand times before. My heart drops like a stone in my chest and I scramble to a quick recovery and the mask comes up to protect, to seem untouched by what has occurred. That they noticed I am different from them. I have concluded that that is why I was diagnosed at an early age as schizophrenic. It was one diagnosis among others that set me on the path of self-discovery. I was so good at masks.

    Strange how as the picture puzzle starts to take shape and an image, that the final pieces bring into view the whole history of me putting it together in the first place. The hours spent firstly finding pieces with straight edges to form a parameter and all the blue ones and then reddish one and dappled leafy one and the ones that look like a house and finally, your suspicions suggest a final, but then the last pieces and you realize you have lived a life of arrested development, a life that was unfulfilled really, and that you are autist. A high functioning autist. My children doubt what I believe.

    It is two flavours that I receive in life — more than likely from the most developed masks inside me, that have never failed to protect so first, the fear from men and women alike, or second, their condescension, which informs me that I am a different species than them. I am an alien from another world who has decided to visit here so I might understand what it means to be a human being on earth at this time. And experience normal.

    I thank you for your posts, you are truly a blessing and very talented. and this website has given me hope of a new beginning.

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