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
“A remarkable work that will stand at the forefront of the neurodiversity movement.”—Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP,author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
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.
About the Author
Devon Price, PhD, is a social psychologist, professor, author, and proud Autistic person. His research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and the Journal of Positive Psychology. Devon’s writing has appeared in outlets such as the Financial Times, HuffPost, Slate, Jacobin, Business Insider, LitHub, and on PBS and NPR. He lives in Chicago, where he serves as an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
“Unmasking Autism is at once a most deeply personal and scholarly account of the damage caused by autistic (and all) people leading masked lives, and how unmasking is essential to creating a self-determined, authentic life. It provides a unique and revealing perspective on the sensory and social-cognitive experience of autism. It provides practical guidance and exercises for neurodivergent people to learn to be comfortable in their own skin and dramatically change their own lives, and it details the necessary changes that society needs to make to honor neurodiversity. This is a remarkable work that will stand at the forefront of the neurodiversity movement.”—Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP, Visiting Scholar, Brown University, author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
“Reading this felt like being at home—I didn’t realize how much I masked. What an incredible book that I know will be re-read many times over.”—Dr. Camilla Pang, author of An Outsider’s Guide to Humans
“Price’s accessible and compassionate writing shines, and readers will feel encouraged to embrace a new understanding of themselves. Its potential to help masked autistic adults, especially those from systemically marginalized backgrounds, makes this book essential for most collections.”—Library Journal (starred review)