The Two Sides of the MyPuzzlingPiece Mission:
I’ve never met a puzzle. Have you?
When Cassius was first diagnosed, I very much bought into the “puzzle piece phenomenon.” A puzzle, complete with a couple missing pieces here and there, seemed an adequate descriptor of our child’s behaviors. Like many other parents on this journey, I went through years of confusion, not understanding that all along my child was right in front of me, speaking a different language. I thought he was the one missing the puzzle pieces, and I hoped that with his autism diagnosis and the interventions that would follow, I could find them.
Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up. – Ray Romano
There are two words that seem to be a resounding theme throughout my writing here at MyPuzzlingPiece, and they are words that, in brutal honesty, I am quite juxtaposed to: “I’m wrong.” Well, I get plenty of practice here admitting when I’m wrong, because throughout this journey, I’ve been wrong a lot.
If I’m being honest, Cassius has taught me more in his 12 years than I could ever teach him in a lifetime.
It turns out, I was looking at everything backwards. When I stared at the puzzle pieces scattered on the table, I assumed he was missing pieces because they wouldn’t fit together to make the picture that I expected to see.
And then I began to learn. What I would learn would revolutionize my entire perspective on autism, and Cassius, in general.
What I discovered is that he isn’t missing any pieces — he’s an entirely different puzzle.
That’s when this website became more than just an outlet for me to document our journey. In the months that have followed, I have developed a double-sided-mission here at MyPuzzlingPiece, and from this point forward, this is the purpose of this website. I believe both sides of this mission are not only helpful to understand each child on the spectrum, but desperately necessary.
Mission: Bringing together Neurodiversity and Education
Our focus is on celebrating neurodiversity, and supporting the parents of newly diagnosed ASD parents — particularly those that are affiliated with the military (but generally, we are all about every au-some kiddo, regardless of their parents’ occupations!).
Here at MyPuzzlingPiece, our focus is very real, so our focus is celebrating neurodiversity — with all it’s strengths and weaknesses — in a supportive, non-judgemental matter. We are also research and evidence-based, with a goal to promote healthy, happy families and healthy, happy kids.
In addition to celebrating neurodiversity, and being research and evidence-based, a major feature of our website is bringing together neurotypical [“NT”] parents of autistic children with autistic adults.
There are several reasons for this, but I will just focus on the main rationale for bringing together the parents of autistic children with autistic adults. Today are millions of “PH’d’s” and Neuro-psychologists, and M.D.’s, (amongst countless other acronyms) that understand a LOT about autism. Their education and research are valuable to us. Their hard work has benefited us. We appreciate their insight deeply, but we take it with a grain of salt, if the individual with all those letters behind their name isn’t autistic themselves.
Consider the field of marine biology. It can take years of study to become a marine biologist. Yet, even after years of study and experience, a marine biologist will never know what it feels like to swim with a family of whales 1,000 miles; or what it feels like to be a single-celled alga glowing iridescently underneath the clearest Australian star-filled sky. The “expert” can tell us that the cell’s walls absorb the warm UV rays during the day, and that is where the light green, magical glow comes from, but if you ask the marine biologist “but what does that feel like?” the scientist won’t have an answer.
All the education in the world doesn’t provide insight into experience.
So here at mypuzzlingpiece, we want to reach across the spectrum and ask all the experts their opinions and perspectives — and we also want to pose these same questions to the autistic adult community. We feel, here at MyPuzzlingPiece., it is VERY important to merge together the science and research side, as well as the perspectives and experiences of what it feels like to be an autistic person. We hope this provides a better picture and deeper insight into our kiddos and the autistic community as a whole.
I used to believe that nobody could know my child better than myself. I was wrong.
I used to believe that nobody could ever advocate better for my child than myself. Again, I was wrong.
It took me over eleven years to realize my own misconceptions. My hope is that by reading this, other parents will learn from my mistakes, and not make them as well.