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Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces…

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (urspr publ 2022; utgåvan 2022)

av Devon Price PhD (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
5121348,775 (4.35)11
"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"--
Titel:Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity
Författare:Devon Price PhD (Författare)
Info:Harmony (2022), 304 pages


Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity av Devon Price (2022)


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This book is so well done. There's a lot of valuable insights and great information. It's laid out well and easily comprehensible. ( )
  mlstweet | Mar 12, 2024 |
Rating: 4 stars of 5 (Review now live.)

Unmasking Autism was such an eye-opening, validating read. Devon writes in an engaging, welcoming voice and begins by introducing the reader to what the spectrum of autism really looks like, particularly in people who are not young white males presenting with a very stereotypical manifestation of it. As an autistic psychologist, Devon is able to both speak from experience about his own story and to educate the reader about relevant neurotype research. We also get to hear about other autistic peoples’ stories throughout the book.

After we learn about what autism actually is, how common it is, how it manifests in different kinds of people, and what you can do if you suspect you may be autistic (including some pros and cons of which to be aware if you think you might want to seek a diagnosis), Devon dives into the topic of masking. Masking can basically be summed up, in my estimation, as presenting oneself as neurotypical so as to not draw unwanted attention to oneself, to fit in with societal expectations, to survive, etc. It is a practice that enables many autistic people, whether they realize they are autistic or not (or even whether they realize they are masking), to function in a society that is not designed to be friendly for neurodivergent people. Masking can be exhausting and many people who mask eventually reach a point at which they can no longer maintain it.

Devon discusses who the various autistic people who mask are, the different ways masking works, and the cost of masking, both for the person who masks and for the society that requires people to mask. It is a really fascinating read, and I appreciated all of the research that was mentioned throughout the book.

About halfway through, the narrative transitions away from the cost and practice of masking and shifts focus to how we can build more just, equitable societies that allow both neurodivergent and neurotypical people to unmask and show up fully as themselves. For autistic people, he also offers a framework for building a life that celebrates and integrates your neurodivergence whilst allowing you to live out your values so you can thrive. Additionally, he discusses building friendships and relationships as an autistic person, and briefly mentions autism organizations that are trustworthy sources of information. (There are several that are disreputable.)

One of my favorite thoughts that runs as a thread throughout the book is that difference is not pathology, though our current medical model wants to treat it as such. At one point, Devon shared something from academic Mike Oliver that I thought particularly relevant on this topic:

“In his writing, Oliver described disability as a political status, one that is created by the systems that surround us, not our minds and bodies.”

This idea resonated, as did the social model of disability that Devon presents in the chapter on creating a neurodiverse world. I found that last section of the book particularly inspiring as I explored that idea more thoroughly.

I rated the book with four stars instead of a full five because it contains a solid handful of editing errors and contains strong language, for which I routinely remove a star from my ratings. That said, it is an excellent read and I would definitely recommend reading it for people who either are (or suspect they are) autistic, know someone who is, or who are curious about neurodivergence and how we can all work together to make our society a more just, equitable one for everyone. ( )
  erindarlyn | Jan 25, 2024 |
Though a neurotypical myself, I’ve made recent efforts towards better understanding a colleague at work who is on the autism spectrum. I did so with the hope of learning to deal with future colleagues who might come from similar perspectives. I work in software development, which is targeted as a potential career path with less interaction with neurotypicals. So I expect more interactions with future co-workers on the spectrum. I’ve read several works on autism, and Devon Price’s book surpasses them all with its depth in research and in modern psychological concepts. Anyone seeking to understand someone on the spectrum, whether a friend or themselves, will benefit from Price’s wisdom and knowledge.

Of note, Price considers themselves autistic. Further, they acquired a PhD in psychology to understand how to help fellow autistics with life. Autism’s prevalence seems only to be increasing in America, and common understanding among the rest of us – so-called “neurotypicals” – needs to increase. Price makes a convincing case that expecting those with autism to conform to unnatural modes of living is inhumane and inefficient. They also makes a strong case against applying a medical model of disease alone. The personalities and personhood of neurodiverse people need to be considered more by educators and healthcare workers.

Although this book stands out in excellence, I have two specific criticisms. First, Price’s definition of the autistic condition is highly subjective; they seem to allow almost anyone to identify with it. The inclusion criteria are quite wide, and the exclusion criteria are almost non-existent. While this breadth is helpful in counseling situations, wider life presents many situations, like health insurance or accessing educational services, where some firm labeling is needed. Of course, many situations relating to mental health fall into the same camp; this problem is not unique to autism or Price.

Second, Price’s suggestions to make a world more friendly to neurodiversity seems a bit idealistic and naive. While I agree that Americans tend to overwork in attempts to be productive, the need to work is important to embrace for us all as individuals and society. Particularly because I’m reading this for co-workers, I’d like to hear more specifics about how to work together for the common good. Future writings might need to be done by someone with more distance from individual psychotherapy and more business experience.

Despite these concerns, overall, this book taught me a lot. I haven’t found a better resource yet, period. We all have to unmask from social expectations to some degree, and I learned how I can be less oppressive towards others. I still have plenty more to learn, but I now have a better foundation to work with. While this book is aimed towards those with autism and neurotypicals near those with autism, it deserves an even wider audience. We all need to learn to make the world a better place for neurodiversity. I suspect that books like this will only provide a beginning for a decades-long effort, but it persuades that we’ll improve our common lot through the work. ( )
  scottjpearson | Jan 10, 2024 |
The book was good as a whole but definitely only addressed one segment of the autistic experience with masking. As an early diagnosed autistic who's been in the neurodiversity movement for years I kept waiting for Price to address masking not just as something you learn on your own that's imposed by general societal ableism, but when it's trained by the psychiatric and disability service systems in a way that targets your behaviors *specifically because* they are seen as autistic/disordered. The experience is qualitatively different in a lot of ways that just aren't acknowledged. This is something Price mentions briefly in the context of ABA (though I wish there were more actual ABA survivor perspectives in the book) but it's not just ABA, it's at the roots of the carceral special education system and psychiatry and the school to prison pipeline and state disability services and so many other things. And the strategies for people whose masking is self imposed have never never worked for me as a survivor of some of these (and not others; I definitely do have important privileges and some of the exact same blind spots as Price does!) I found a lot of my experience as a (non-Black) autistic of color being unaccounted for too, especially wrt how parents and family relationships reinforce masking. I could say more about this, but I've had trouble with the archetype of the entitled white autism mom who values conformity for conformity's sake, not because I don't think this type of person exists but because of my own experience with a mom who wanted me to conform and put me through a ton of harmful autism "interventions" because of her own experience growing up as a poor Korean adoptee in predominantly white private schools. She came to value conformity because of her own trauma, and didn't want me to experience a compounded form of that alienation by acting visibly autistic AND being Asian. It still wasn't right, but I would have appreciated some degree of acknowledgement that parents of color have different rationales for making their kids suppress autistic traits than the average "white mommy who wants little Timmy to stop flapping" or whatever.

I'm very critical of the book but giving it 3 1/2 stars because I think it did have some good insights and conclusions. I guess I'm just uneasy with Price's proposal of unmasking-as-politics for the same reason I'm wary of coming-out-as-politics in a queer context. People mask because they're trying not to become "unpersons" (see Mel Baggs' video on this), trying not to display the kinds of autistic behaviors that get people in prison and institutions and under guardianship and in sheltered workshops. So yes it is a conditional privilege and a survival strategy, but what about the autistics who don't or can't use it? The people who have always been called unpersons and never got a chance to prove they weren't? Isn't that the place where liberation is needed the most? By asking people to unmask you are not just asking them to risk social judgement and become freer, you are asking them to give up a material form of privilege that you can be killed for not having. I don't really believe in the model of... trickle-down liberation? that Price proposes, where those of us who are able to "unmask" doing so leads to those who aren't being freer and safer and alive. and the author acknowledges this in a cursory way but as a Goodreads reviewer mentions, "these might not work if you're Black or poor or mentally ill or have an intellectual disability or are nonspeaking or..." doesn't work because these are the people who need to be free before the rest of us can. It just feels so so individualist even though Price is a cool leftist and good at taking a systemic approach in some areas.

Some books I liked better about autistic liberation are Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking (an anthology of historical voices from the politicized side of the neurodiversity movement, from over 10 years ago but still is so so good) and Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement (good collection of essays from people who've been on the frontlines of things. Also alllll of Mel Baggs' work at ballastexistenz and the tumblr blog withasmoothroundstone, and the Autistic Archive online (its like the queer zine archive project but for autistic history!) ( )
  frailandfreakish | Jan 9, 2024 |
DNF @ Page 58 ( )
  filemanager | Nov 29, 2023 |
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To all the autistics I met online,
before I knew who I was.
Your friendship provided an oasis
when I was at my most miserably adrift.
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When I moved from Cleveland to Chicago in the summer of 2009, I had no idea I'd need to make friends.
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"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"--

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