Monday, December 19, 2011

The Great Puzzle

I was stuck in traffic behind a car with an Autism ribbon the other day and it got me to thinking about the use of multi-colored puzzle pieces as the symbol for Autism. I get that Autism is puzzling in terms of what causes it and why Autism is so different in each Autistic person, but I resent feeling like there are people who think that I am a puzzle that needs to be solved, as if I’m somehow broken or incomplete.

The more I stared at the ribbon, the more I thought about it. With everything that has been going on with work, the idea of there being something “wrong” with me is all it takes to set me off on a rant about how good I am at my job. I have rocked my AR job for years, not in spite of being an Aspie, but because of it. Hyperfocus, repetition, and the ability to look at things differently…those are my strengths and I have them because I am Autistic.

I’ve not had to give a great deal of thought to my needs at work in relation to having Asperger’s Syndrome. Having my own office, where I can wear earplugs and not answer the phone has provided all the “special accommodation” I need. Unfortunately, my new boss is trying to take all that away from me, despite my attempts at explaining the importance of staying put.

So now I come back to the puzzle symbol. And it hits me.

I am not a puzzle, but how I live my life is. Imagine if every human response to social situations and various stimuli were color coded. A love of loud, busy settings is “Red”. Preferring to stay in and have a quiet evening is “Blue.” Taking charge and/or being aggressive are “Green”. Nurturing others is “Pink”, and so on. Everyone gets to pick and choose which colors with which to piece together their own worlds.

Most neurotypical people would choose only one or two colors. Many Autistic people would do the same. For me, it’s not so simple. In one instance, “Green” may be the way to go. In another, I’ll choose “Blue” or “Pink”. Because I cope with different situations and stimuli in so many ways, my life is a beautiful mosaic, alive with color.

Autism “Spectrum”, indeed.

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