The puzzle piece
A puzzle piece, or missing piece, is the iconic symbol for Autism awareness in the USA. It symbolizes that there is something missing from our precious ones with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sometimes, people use it to discuss those with ASD fitting into the societal puzzle. I have also seen reference to the one with ASD being the missing piece of the puzzle. There are more interpretations I am sure. However, I want to adjust our mindset about those with an ASD diagnosis.
Leigh (also on the spectrum) and I were discussing the puzzle piece symbolism the other day. He had an interesting take on being part of the group this refers to. He said, "maybe we're not a puzzle at all. We're something else entirely. Or, maybe we're pieces from a bunch of different puzzles that don't go together at all. Or, we have an extra piece that isn't from our original puzzle."
That might not make sense to someone who doesn't speak his language. But I knew precisely what he was getting at. People with Autism are extra. They are special. They have abilities the rest of us don't. Even those who are non-verbal have something extra special about them. This aspect of their beings makes it challenging for those of us on the outside to access them, understand them, and communicate with them. If we can stop trying to drag them into our world of perfectly assembled, logical puzzles, and instead join them in their worlds (which I promise are organized as THEY need them to be), we can access a whole, glorious world of wonder.
This is no simple task. Joining them where they are, when they are, and how they are is mountainous. But, oh so worth it. When you can connect to someone, anyone, in their world, you will be rewarded immensely. Step out of us, into they. Raising a child with Autism isn't about us or our wants and needs. It is about them. It is about meeting them and knowing them. Being successfully married to someone with Autism is about learning how to communicate in their way. I am here to tell you, both these endeavors are well worth your time and effort. If you need help to figure out this world, PLEASE reach out to me, or to another professional. Not only is it worth it to work on this goal, but it is okay, and admirable, to get help when you need it. The expectation that we grow our marriages and raise our children without help is absurd and antiquated. Don't short yourself by trying alone. Join the Autism world in your house today and you will not be sorry!