When you hear autistic advocates talking about ableism and masking, this is what a lot of us are talking about. The idea that if you can hide or camouflage something, you should. That it is your moral imperative to inconvenience people as little as humanly possible. Many of us late-realized autistic folx learned this real early, that our needs would not be taken seriously and that we'd better cover them up before we got punished for them.
There is an inherent privilege in being able to mask, for sure. Some high and medium support needs autistic people cannot mask their needs. Having low support needs still means you have support needs. And more than likely, if you are late-realized autistic, you learned to hide those needs.
Many of us want to come out to our friends and loved ones as autistic but we are scared. We are scared that we will not be taken seriously. Or even worse, that being autistic will be used against us in some way. We are scared that once we say we are autistic and unmask our needs, we will receive the messaging we were told as children, that we shouldn't have those needs.
Autistic adults do not have the same needs as allistic adults. We can have breakdowns/meltdowns/shutdowns over construction noise down the street. We can lose the ability to speak. We can burnout to the point of not being able to work. These are not signs that we need to grow up or learn better skills (although learning better skills is helpful), this is just what being an autistic adult entails.
For many of us, therapies like ABA, CBT, etc are all aimed at getting us to not act autistic. Sure, we can be autistic, that's fine, but our work should be to not show it. Because acting autistic is seen as an inferior way of being a person. No one would choose it so let's change it - that seems to be the motto. You can be autistic but don't freak out so much, ok?
What if we don't want to change it? What if it's ok to be who we are and have the challenges we have without hiding it? We receive messages from society that it is ok to have a disability as long as you are successful and overcome it. Don't quit. Don't let it "win." What if we let autism win? What if?