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

Meng Chuan Lai*, Laura Hull, William Mandy, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Christine Wu Nordahl, Michael V. Lombardo, Stephanie H. Ameis, Peter Szatmari, Simon Baron-Cohen, Francesca Happé, Lucy Anne Livingston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Early online date2 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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