This is a good overview and self-help aligned book for what Devon Price terms as “Masked Autistics.” I am among those and saw a lot of positive press for this book from other Autistic people, so I got it for my birthday and got around to reading it this week. This is a well-written and straight forward text, so it was an easy and enjoyable read. I saw several people were crying reading this because it hit so close to home — I did not cry and wasn’t that intensely moved, but I already knew a lot of this information so maybe it wasn’t as earth shaking for me. I was definitely impacted by the truth of what he was saying, and the acknowledgement of the interior pain I’ve been battling through, but just not the the level of sobbing. I did like the use of the term “Masked Autistics” instead of “female” vs “male” autism, because as a guy who doesn’t fall into the “male” presentation it adds to my gender dysphoria to think I’m not fitting into the right presentation. Whereas I’m definitely great at masking (CAT-Q score of 162, albeit at internal personal cost), so that term fit way better and has the bonus of being gender neutral.
Unmasking Autism is split up into eight chapters that take you through the history of Autism, the different presentations, and then how to unmask and live an authentic life. I am a late diagnosis Autistic so was interested to see if any of the suggestions were practical or new to me. I guess at this stage of my life I personally found some of them impractical, although I liked the “Reframing Autistic Stereotypes” section. I think the internal advice I found useful but the advice about changing my external behavior depended — I trust my friends and family, but as someone who lives a stealth life at a normative office job, I don’t really see any way to unmask there, even a little. So I was left a bit despairing in terms of changing anything at the place where I spend most of my waking hours, and the social/emotional exhaustion will continue. And overall it continued my feeling of being outside even the Autistic community because I do not get where people are making all these awesome Autistic friends (Social media? I’m too shy and private for that. Meetups? None that seem active near me. Etc.) so I’m just reading a lot. Not to sound too depressing, as I am thinking big picture about what to change, and I didn’t expect the book to do that for me. This was a helpful read, and very affirming in terms of validating the stress of what I have to do to survive in society, and its cost. I just wish the answer was a complete societal change, and that I could be open in all aspects of my everyday life.