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Autism & The Puzzle Piece

We’ve just wrapped up another Autism Awareness Month.  As the month came winding down, I was actually gearing up to speak with another group of young people who, at the very core of their group, are all about helping others. 

The Interact Club at Abingdon-Avon Middle School will kick off their next fundraiser next week.  This one will benefit the Autism Society, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. 

Awareness campaigns often include a ribbon or some type of logo.  The autism awareness ribbon includes brightly colored puzzle pieces.  According to, the puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives.

Our life as a family really does feel like a puzzle most days.  Some days, life runs like a well-oiled machine.  Everyone gets where they need to be in a timely fashion, with a good attitude and does what they need to do, when they need to do it.  This is a rarity, but it does happen from time to time.  These are the days in which I feel like our puzzle is put together just fine and I have to will myself not to run amuck searching for the puzzle glue to hold it all together forever.  Truth is, most days it seems we do a good job of getting it all together at some point, usually around bedtime.  Like a puzzle, everything can pull apart with a  jar, a push or a shove from any direction, even non-autism related reasons.

Watching a puzzle you’ve worked on non-stop for days or weeks come crashing to the floor can be frustrating, even infuriating.  However, watching your child fall apart because of who knows why or how, is downright heartbreaking.  But here’s the thing I keep reminding myself about puzzles:  No matter how many times they come apart, they will always go back together again.



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