Of course the concept of fixed personality wont make sense to highly masked people of any type. When you are changing your social appearance to match who they expect, it's hard to identify who you are – also it does change due to plasticity. Very few traits are fixed (if any).
People can only change what they understand too. If you don't enquire, you can't change. I guess being a permanent chameleon for 37 years did give me a level of growth inaccessible to a lot of people.
Taking the positives out of a lifetime of mostly negative experiences is difficult. But this lyric is true:
"All the answers
To all our problems
Lie within the one who tries to dodge them"
The late identification of my differences is mainly about shedding the stuff I don't agree with I did to 'fit in', but it's so much work that has to happen. The closer I've become to my true self – the more congruent I feel. This is a key concept of Carl Rogers.
"Rogers identified the "real self" as the aspect of one's being that is founded in the actualizing tendency, follows organismic values and needs, and receives positive others' regard and self-regard. It is the "you" that, if all goes well, you will become.
On the other hand, to the extent that our society is out of sync with the actualizing tendency, and we are forced to live with conditions of worth that are out of step with organismic valuing, and receive only conditional positive regard and self-regard,
we develop instead an "ideal self". By ideal, Rogers is suggesting something not real, something that is always out of our reach, the standard we cannot meet. This gap between the real self and the ideal self, the "I am" and the "I should" is called incongruity."
No person I love more in the field of psychology than Carl Rogers. Everything he's written improved my understanding of me, and also people who truly embrace his approach are the best people to help others.
Masking could more easily be renamed "Forced Incongruence".
A simple guide to Carl Rogers: "Love what's there unconditionally" – every time people did that for stuff I was ashamed of, I got to release the shame and grow. I was damaged really young, a lot of stuff I did out of being hurt when people wouldn't realise that about me.
No ADHD or Autistic kid wants to be awful, there's unaddressed damage – even if no one intended it. One thing I definitely agree with Gabor Maté's book is that often the most defiant people are the ones who need the most love even in the face of the damage they are causing.
A recent TV show – Ted Lasso – does a really good look at how hurt people end up hurting people. They need to be seen for what is underneath and loved for it, when they mess up and admit it they need to be loved and forgiven if it came from a place of hurt.
Don't excuse the behaviour, but also don't attribute it to the person. These concepts need to be split out. Behaviour doesn't occur in a vacuum.
The idea of punishing kids harshly who admit they've done bad things is one of the worst pieces of parenting advice that exists. Unless the child agrees that there should be some further consequences, or you negotiate that. Punishing people for telling the truth makes liars.
If your kid shows shame and embarrassment for their actions, the psychological effect of that has done the work. Reinforcing further shame doesn't allow for growth.
It does teach the child your love is conditional on their behaviour, and they are children. They are still learning how to be a person.
Honestly negotiation of punishments seems like it won't work, but it will – and you are respecting the child's autonomy. They will understand their actions have consequences and they won't feel controlled rather than disciplined.
"So what you did here you realise was bad, what do you think we should do about it?"
"<child comes up with suggestion>"
"Ok, that sounds reasonable" OR "I think it should be slightly more"
"I'm really glad you told me, and I love you, but we both agree this behaviour isn't good"
Kids need to know they can make mistakes, otherwise they hide them. If punishments are too severe they are counter intuitive. Avoiding pain is a natural thing to do, so making sure you don't inflict more without some input from the child teaches the wrong lesson.
Also don't make a big deal about motor coordination errors – where stuff gets broken. No person ever intends to have an accident. That's the very premise of the word.
"I can't believe you dropped the milk, how could you be so stupid"
"That milk was probably a little too heavy for you, feel free to ask me to help you next time, now lets clean this up together"
Which of these actions do you think benefits the child more and allows for learning? It's basic logic.
If you demonstrate future actions that align with your goals, then these issues happen less.
Authoritative parenting (like I've described) has the best outcomes in all studies, Permissive parenting (letting the child run free) is still better than Authoritarian Parenting which doesn't allow child growth.
Compliance and growth are two completely different outcomes.
One traps a kid in the development stage of childhood with an appearance of development (while hating themselves), the other allows them to grow out of it.
Compliance should never be the goal.
Your child is their own person, if you treat them as an extension of yourself, they don't get to be one. Authoritarian parenting is about riddling your child with your anxieties – people who get to be themselves, have more flourishing lives.
"I did everything I could, I was on their case I don't know how they didn't turn out well"
Really? Nearly all parents I've seen say this had to deprogram their parenting only to repeat it to their children.
They say stuff like "The best day I had was the day I left home" not realising that maybe that was when they were first allowed to grow properly. But unless they deal with the implicit emotional memories they end up using the same things, the guilt they feel is overwhelming.