My 5 Take-Aways about Interoception, Masking & Monotropism

Hey everyone, Kelly Mahler, occupational therapist. I’m taking a moment to just pause and reflect, because we just finished covering two huge, important topics. In April and May, we talked about the intersection between interoception and monotropism as well as the intersection between interoception and masking. There is so much overlap in both of these areas, and I am walking away from these discussions a much more informed human. I know I have a lot of learning ahead of me, but I’ve learned so much from our social media community as well as so many people who attended our courses on these topics. I’m challenging myself to summarize the five main takeaways or learning moments for me. So, here I go.

Take-Away 1: The topics of interoception, monotropism, and masking resonate with a lot of curious people!

I was so surprised and really reassured just how many people found these topics to resonate with their experience. There were so many people who were on a quest to understand their own lived experience, but also so many people who are seeking to be more informed and affirming professionals and caregivers.

We had lots of people interacting with our courses and with our social media regarding these topics. If you missed out and you want to learn more about monotropism, masking and interoception, the courses I taught with Kieran Rose on these topics are available on-demand. You can check them out here.

If freebies are more your jam, you can check out our discussions in all of my social media.

Take-Away 2: Unmasking is a huge part of living in a way that honors one’s own bodily needs.

This one is more personal. Someone asked me: what does it mean to be acting in a way that is authentic to your experience? And I was stumped…I really didn’t know. That’s a really hard question for me to answer. What does it mean to be your authentic self?

So, I turned to the community, all of you, and got so much great feedback that helped me to understand what this concretely means. What I’m really taking away here, and what I’m going to be personally reflecting on, is: am I acting in a way that is meeting my own personal bodily needs and in a way that is promoting felt safety in my body? That’s what I’m going to continually ask myself moving forward. I know that’s going to be a really hard process, and unmasking is a really, really hard. But it is a very important process if we have safety nets around us to be able to take that journey.

Take-Away 3: There are free tools helpful for self-discovery in masking and monotropism.

Takeaway number three is about some really amazing free tools that may help people who are on a quest of self understanding.

First off, there’s something called the Monotropism Questionnaire, and that’s a free online assessment that someone can take to analyze a processing style. Are you a monotropic processor? Are you a polytropic processor?

Then there’s also a tool for checking out more about masking or camouflaging called the Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire, or CAT-Q for short. This can be another great tool to really dig in, explore your inner experience, and see if you’re someone who is masking or not.

Take-Away 4: Three major themes that continually emerge from interoception discussions are felt-safety, curiosity & validation.

Takeaway number four is something that is becoming quite clear to me. There’s a pattern emerging no matter what topic we’re covering with interoception; whether it’s interoception & masking, interoception & monotropism, interoception & feeding differences, or interoception & emotion language, it all comes back to three themes.

It’s all about felt safety first and foremost, and helping each human to feel as safe as possible in their bodies and in their worlds. That is key. The other two themes are curiosity and validation. Helping each person to explore their inner self and to have safe people who are validating that inner experience, what they’re learning, what they’re discovering about themselves. Also to ensure that we’re all curious about each other’s experiences, so that when we project this curiosity and we learn something about another person, we have opportunities to hopefully validate each other’s own unique experience. Every human is deserving of curiosity and validation and, of course, felt safety.

Take-Away 5: Occupational Therapy Practitioners can serve as curious and validating interoception allies!

The last takeaway is for my occupational therapy practitioner peeps out there. I rarely exclusively address occupational therapists, but this one is for you. The American Occupational Therapy Association did approve CEUs or credits for both the Monotropism & Interoception course and the Masking & Interoception course, which was really exciting and very affirming because these topics are so important. They really fit in our wheelhouse as occupational therapy practitioners.

If we circle back to the fourth takeaway and helping our clients via felt safety, curiosity and validation,  these themes are core to our training.

We have rich background and education to understand the neurobiological components of felt safety and how we can adapt environments and systems to promote felt safety for our clients.

For curiosity, just the very nature of the occupational therapy process is rooted in curiosity. We have such diverse training in many different topics like neurology and mental health. So we have this holistic background to be able to take that curiosity in different ways.

And of course through our training on therapeutic use of self we can seek to understand each client and provide that inner validation and support that they are so deserving of.

So, if you are someone who is a fellow OTP, and you’re seeking CE credits, our courses in these topics are approved. And if you’re not someone who’s not interested in our courses, I hope you’ll at least join us in the celebration that these topics are being embraced and accepted in our profession. I believe that we could be leaders in this space and join our clients in helping to create a better world.

Until next time.

Want to learn more about masking and interoception? Check out the on-demand course!

live course on interoception and masking

Want to learn more about interoception and monotropism? Check out the on-demand course!

course on interoception and monotropism