A comparison of methods for measuring camouflaging in autism

published in the journal Autism Research.

By Benjamin Hannon, William Mandy, Laura Hull, and others.



The article is divided into two parts: a systematic review and an empirical study. The aim of the article is to evaluate the existing methods for measuring camouflaging in autism, which is the process of hiding or compensating for autistic traits in social situations. Camouflaging can have negative impacts on mental health and well-being, but it is not well understood or assessed in research or clinical practice.


systematic review

The first part of the article is a systematic review of the literature on camouflaging measurement methods from 2006 to 2022. The authors used a checklist to evaluate the quality and validity of 16 different tools that have been used to quantify camouflaging in autism. The tools included self-report questionnaires, parent-report questionnaires, observer ratings, interviews, behavioral tasks, and discrepancy measures. The authors found that none of the tools had sufficient evidence to support their use, and that there were several gaps and limitations in the literature, such as:

  • The lack of parent-report tools that specifically measure camouflaging
  • The lack of studies that compare different methods of camouflaging or examine their associations with other variables
  • The lack of consensus on the definition and conceptualization of camouflaging
  • The lack of consideration of the diversity and heterogeneity of the autistic population
  • The lack of attention to the ethical and practical implications of measuring camouflaging


empirical study

The second part of the article is an empirical study that aimed to address some of the gaps identified in the systematic review. The authors created a parent-report version of the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q), which is a self-report tool that measures the frequency and motivation of camouflaging behaviors. They administered the parent-report CAT-Q, the self-report CAT-Q, and a discrepancy measure (which compares the scores on the Autism Spectrum Quotient and the Social Responsiveness Scale) to 50 autistic young people aged 11 to 18 years and their parents. They also administered a measure of social skills (the Social Skills Improvement System) to test whether camouflaging is distinct from social ability. The authors found that:

  • The parent-report CAT-Q and the self-report CAT-Q were moderately correlated, indicating some agreement between the perspectives of the young people and their parents
  • The parent-report CAT-Q and the discrepancy measure were moderately correlated, indicating that both methods capture some aspects of camouflaging
  • The self-report CAT-Q and the discrepancy measure were weakly correlated, indicating that they measure different aspects of camouflaging
  • None of the camouflaging measures were correlated with the social skills measure, indicating that camouflaging is not the same as social ability



The authors concluded that the parent-report CAT-Q is a promising tool for measuring camouflaging in autism, and that it can complement the self-report CAT-Q and the discrepancy measure. They also suggested that future research should further validate the camouflaging measures, explore the factors that influence camouflaging, and examine the outcomes and consequences of camouflaging. They also highlighted the need for ethical and clinical guidelines for measuring and addressing camouflaging in autism.


FAQ: Camouflaging in Autism

Q1. What is camouflaging?


Ans. Camouflaging is when someone with autism masks or hides their autistic traits in order to fit in with others. This can be done consciously or unconsciously.


Q2. Why do people with autism camouflage?


Ans. People with autism camouflage for a variety of reasons, such as to avoid being bullied or ostracized, to make friends, or to get ahead in school or work.


Q3. What are the risks of camouflaging?


Ans. Camouflaging can be harmful to people with autism because it can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also make it difficult for people with autism to get the support and services they need.


Q4. How can we help people with autism who are camouflaging?


Ans. We can help people with autism who are camouflaging by creating safe and accepting spaces where they can be themselves. We can also provide support and services to help them cope with the challenges of camouflaging.



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