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A Campaign to Abolish the Puzzle Piece?

25 Sep

I was sent an interesting tweet yesterday: “Don’t like the autism puzzle piece [my Twitter avatar], but you seem cool so I’m following you.” I was intrigued. Who was this Corina Becker, and why was her Twitter picture a puzzle piece with a bright red no-symbol slashing through it?

Some research revealed she is an individual on the spectrum who writes several blogs and who feels strongly about this issue. Passion demands attention, so I “tweeted” with her, and here was Ms. Becker’s response: “It’s [be]cause the puzzle implies that there are pieces missing, or that we’re broken and need fixing. That if the right pieces are found, we’d become ‘normal’ or become human.”

To be honest, I adopted the puzzle piece for visibility, for easy identification about my niche. I even headed this blog with an “artsy” puzzle-piece motif. Well, you can probably see that one artsy motif has been replaced with another: the spectrum.

The spectrum is hard to visualize, to capture, to depict. I struggled with a visual for “it” and found myself “stuck” with a literal interpretation. But, isn’t that the point? That very vastness is what makes the spectrum untenable. That vastness assumes uniqueness and solidarity at once.

When I pulled out a few pieces of that puzzle, literally and figuratively, I did isolate people, those people I love and respect so dearly. I apologize. The spectrum embraces what I really want to discuss, disseminate, and embrace. The spectrum means that others don’t “suffer” from a “plight”. We simply co-exist. It is up to all of us as to how well we do that.

Thank you, Corina Becker.

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5 responses to “A Campaign to Abolish the Puzzle Piece?

  1. Corina Becker

    September 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    You’re welcome.

     
  2. Maria

    September 26, 2010 at 5:43 AM

    I guess I look at it differently. I have a son who has autism and he and I look at the puzzle piece as just a symbol. I doesn’t mean he is broken and needs to be fixed. He is who he is and we are trying to put the pieces together to help him. It means to us finding answers and ways to help deal with his autism. It also mean finding truth in why or what causes autism. It also means giving people information on autism and how it has affect my son so that they have a full picture or complete puzzle of who he is and how special he is. There are so many people with so many different views that I don’t think one is right and one is wrong.

     
    • jholverstott

      September 26, 2010 at 6:30 PM

      I completely agree. I have completed a significant amount of research to find the reasons why the puzzle piece was adopted. I haven’t found one answer. But, I do know that the spectrum is something I can support.

       
  3. Annie

    November 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    This was interesting! I’m about to be diagnosed with Asperger’s (just waiting for the final letter!), and ever since I started reading about the different kinds of autism last winter, I’ve felt drawn to the puzzle piece as a symbol, never seeing it as something that’s missing from us (it still doesn’t make sense to me). Instead, I’ve seen it as a symbol of all the people who have some sort of ASD and who, like puzzle pieces, are different, but still the same.
    I’ve also seen it as a symbol of our difference – we’re sort of oddly shaped, while the NTs are square, without any of them being inferior to the other.

    When that’s said, I’ve seen some websites selling autism themed merchandise (like T shirts with “Proud mother of a special child” or “I have autism. Ask me about it!” printed on them) stating that “some day, we’ll find the missing piece and solve the puzzle”. This might be due to me not being a native English speaker (I apologise for misspellings and unclear language that may be present in this comment!), but I’ve never interpreted this as a matter of fixing or curing, but rather a matter of understanding. That the missing piece is what can tell people *why* their child has an ASD. That it is what makes us so hard to understand for NTs.

    When I look at an unfinnished puzzle, I don’t see it as less of a puzzle or an inferior puzzle. I just see that there are holes where I assume there should be a building, a tree or a fish. When I find the missing pieces, I’m happy to see everything clearly, but it’s still not a smooth, printed poster. It’s uneven, has a funny texture. It’s beautiful and impressive in it’s own way, just like a person with ASD, and no piece can make it all smooth like a NT. The only thing the piece can do, is make the beauty and logic of it apparent to everyone.

    With that being said, I do understand that parents who have a son or daughter who’s living in a different world, who they’re unable to reach, who’s unable to cope in the real world, may want a cure or treatment. Not because their kids are inferior as they are, but because the child would have an easier time being a little more like everybody else.

     
  4. Vickie Amazon Sharp

    December 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    I like the idea of the puzzle piece not because it implies something is missing, but because it implies that the whole picture is there, you just have to have the perspective and patience to look at all the pieces you have in the right order to be able to appreciate and understand the big picture. I’ve never considered my child to have ANYTHING missing. Simply that I haven’t completely figured out his puzzle, which is my problem, not his!

     

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