Loyola professor Devon Price writes about the pain of hiding his autism and the rewards of ‘unmasking’ himself

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Devon Price had a long list of rules for getting through the most ordinary day:

Don’t talk too much about the things that interest you, he would tell himself.

Don’t flap your hands or fidget, no matter how much better that would make you feel.

Don’t answer honestly when someone asks how you’re doing.

Don’t show how uncomfortable loud noises make you feel.

In his new book, “Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity,” Price writes about how that strategy eventually backed him into a corner. Professionally, he was a dynamo, earning his Ph.D. in social psychology at age 25, but on a personal level, he was socially isolated, painfully lonely, deeply ashamed of who he really was and at a loss as to how to make things better.

It was only when he discovered he was autistic — and slowly began to embrace his differences and quirks — that his life opened up.

“I realized ‘Oh, I’m not a misanthrope, I just hate being in public because it’s so loud and overstimulating. Oh, I’m not rude because I’m a mean-spirited person, it’s just that I give people an honest answer to a question when they ask me and that’s not what they expected or wanted to hear,” said Price, 33, an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

“All these things just started falling into place.”

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