Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
by Devon Price
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Pub Date 05 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2022
Rodale Inc., Harmony
“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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 33 members
A beautiful combination of both personal accounts and research that both celebrates and informs on neurodiversity.
This book speaks quite directly to Autistics and with candor to allistics. To me, it appears to be written with love, care, compassion and acceptance that communicates and educates both the neurodiverse and neurotypical persons. I believe the transmitted thoughts of this book's author, Devon Price, PHD, will be especially gratifying for Autistics, enabling them that "Eureka Moment" of why they are the way they are and that that is not a bad thing to hide.
In our COVID era we wear masks which are claustrophobic and annoying and we wish to be rid of them. This, symbolically, is done to Autistic people, those with ADHD and even upon those who suffer from PTSD and other neurodiverse identities. They are squelched and forced to mask their stimming, and so on, as if they are a virus to be contained and hidden, so their condition won't spread and embarrass others.
Thankfully, this comprehensive book describes how once a person is diagnosed and has that Eureka Moment, they can then begin the process to unmask and be theirself. I don't know much on this subject, but I believe the author, himself Autistic, has done a masterful job at explaining and providing numerous survery type, guidance questions and tables for the Autistic person, or those who suspect they may be so, to consider and gradually understand themselves. There are further helps of how to unmask and reconstruct ones own life with dignity, without shame and according to the diversity of ones own individualised Autism.
If I were neurodiverse, I'd really love this book and find it exceedingly helpful. As it is, I've learned so much and have had some of my preconceived misunderstandings of Autistics corrected. May each of the neurodiverse readers find the courage to unmask and be themselves. May the other people in their lives cheer them on, accepting them as they are in both their strengths and weakness.
~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~
Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the review copy sent by the publisher.
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Dr. Devon Price is a social psychologist, writer, activist, and professor at Chicago's Loyola University who, with "Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity," has crafted an informative, insightful, and engaging deep dive into the Autism experience and, more specifically, the phenomenon known as "masking," a coping skill in which Autistic people with identifiable traits hide those traits in an effort to better blend in to a society that often rejects these traits as "odd" or "needy."
Unfortunately, this coping mechanism often comes at the expense of one's mental health and with "Unmasking Autism" Dr. Price offers a surprisingly straightforward and accessible path toward unmasking with exercises that encourage self-expression including celebrating special interests, cultivating Autistic relationships, reframing Autistic stereotypes, and rediscovering one's own values.
Dr. Price, author of "Laziness Does Not Exist," simply yet compassionately celebrates the rewards of nonconformity and learning how to live authentically.
"Unmasking Autism" celebrates the new faces of neurodiversity while also issuing a call for a more diversity celebrating society that honors differences.
"Unmasking Autism" will, of course, deeply resonate with those who are Autistic or who identify as someone who does "mask" or at least someone who can relate to "masking." However, "Unmasking Autism" is also a valuable resource for those who work in the field of Autism, those support or simply love someone with Autism, or even someone, myself included, who has always felt neurodiverse yet never officially been "diagnosed."
"Unmasking Autism" is a book that stimulates intellectually and resonates emotionally. I found myself often diving deeper into topics while also often stopping to shed a tear or two. As an adult with Spina Bifida, a birth defect often associated Autism, and someone who works in the field of Autism, I have often found myself doing exactly what Dr. Price identifies here as "masking." They explain everything beautifully and with a tenderness that reveals deep respect and something resembling a literary warm hug.
Those who embrace a more ABA approach to Autism may be most likely to struggle with "Unmasking Autism" as it's clear Dr. Price sees ABA as part of the enforced masking journey. If there's a weakness in the book, perhaps, it's that Dr. Price never really delves into this issue more fully and it's an area that deserves deeper exploration.
"Unmasking Autism" is filled with wonderfully practical exercises and a myriad of people who serve as examples of this journey put forth by Dr. Price. It's a book that not only discovers the new faces of neurodiversity but celebrates these faces.
I've come away from the book feeling engaged, enlightened, enfolded, and encouraged.
That's an awful lot of ens. I know. I know.
Seriously, as I wind down my 2021 reading I'm grateful to have discovered this little indie gem from Dr. Devon Price that will be officially released in 2022. Watch for it. It's a winner.
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