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Unmasking Autism: A Book Review

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

“We first have to feel safe enough to get reacquainted with who we really are.” Unmasking Autism by Devon Price, pg. 11.

Photo of the book Unmasking Autism.

Overview

Average Rating

4.62 stars

My Rating

5 stars

Genres

Nonfiction, health, psychology

Descriptors

Informative, inspiring, reflective

Pace

Medium-paced

CW/TW

Graphic: ableism, alcoholism, emotional abuse. Moderate: eating disorder, child abuse, chronic illness. Minor: transphobia, fatphobia, bullying. See the full list here.

Summary

A deep dive into the spectrum of Autistic experience and the phenomenon of masked Autism, giving individuals the tools to safely uncover their true selves while broadening society’s narrow understanding of neurodiversity


For every visibly Autistic person you meet, there are countless “masked” Autistic people who pass as neurotypical. Masking is a common coping mechanism in which Autistic people hide their identifiably Autistic traits in order to fit in with societal norms, adopting a superficial personality at the expense of their mental health. This can include suppressing harmless stims, papering over communication challenges by presenting as unassuming and mild-mannered, and forcing themselves into situations that cause severe anxiety, all so they aren’t seen as needy or “odd.”


In Unmasking Autism, Dr. Devon Price shares his personal experience with masking and blends history, social science research, prescriptions, and personal profiles to tell a story of neurodivergence that has thus far been dominated by those on the outside looking in. For Dr. Price and many others, Autism is a deep source of uniqueness and beauty. Unfortunately, living in a neurotypical world means it can also be a source of incredible alienation and pain. Most masked Autistic individuals struggle for decades before discovering who they truly are. They are also more likely to be marginalized in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and other factors, which contributes to their suffering and invisibility. Dr. Price lays the groundwork for unmasking and offers exercises that encourage self-expression, including:


• Celebrating special interests

• Cultivating Autistic relationships

• Reframing Autistic stereotypes

• And rediscovering your values


It’s time to honor the needs, diversity, and unique strengths of Autistic people so that they no longer have to mask—and it’s time for greater public acceptance and accommodation of difference. In embracing neurodiversity, we can all reap the rewards of nonconformity and learn to live authentically, Autistic and neurotypical people alike. (Source)


My Review

Everyone needs to read this book, whether they're autistic or not, I think it will help a lot of people understand autism better. It even helped me understand myself better. There were more than a few moments of, "oh, that makes sense now."


Annotation Guide

My annotation key is pretty simple. I tend to keep track of things that I like or relate to, things to think about or research, and then there are the "that hit me right in the feels."


However, on top of this key, I also recorded anything I wanted to research in my bullet journal and then later in a google doc.


This is a book I will be referring back to a lot. There are exercises throughout that I still want to work on, but there are also helpful charts on masking traits and reframing autistic traits that I would like to share with my family.


Special Interest Week

If I could share one thing from this whole book that I think will benefit many of us autistics, it's the Special Interest Week created by Jersey Noah. It started in October 2020 with the hashtag #autiejoy on Instagram, and Devon Price provides an adapted version of the prompts in this book.

  • Day 1: Your Oldest Special Interest

  • Day 2: Your Most Recent Special Interest

  • Day 3: A Special Interest That's Changed Or Grown Over Time

  • Day 4: A Special Interest That Is Collected/Collections

  • Day 5: The Special Interest That Has Shaped Your Life the Most

  • Day 6: A Special Interest You Share With Someone

  • Day 7: A Day For Embracing and Celebrating Special Interests. What's something positive your special interests have brought to your life?

What I'm saying is, feel free to info dump in my comments any time you want. I love learning new things!


Final Thoughts

Now I could have gone into my "autistic revelations" in this review, but I decided highlighting the positive aspects was a different, but better route. Yes, it's important to learn more about ourselves and autism so that our loved ones can better support us. But it's also important to celebrate who we are and not stop ourselves from info dumping and sharing the things we love.


One last note: if you are planning on buying and reading this book, it's only available in hardcover and is $35.99 CAD, the Kindle is $16.99, but it's free with an Audible Trial. Just something to keep in mind.

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