Fellow Aspies (and other ASD patients), for the longest time, the puzzle piece has been a symbol of our condition and our progress. But more importantly, it’s OUR symbol. We are all pieces of the puzzle that is Autism. Up until now, we have been dealing with our condition as individual puzzle pieces. It’s time that we, as pieces of the same puzzle, come together to connect our pieces to see the greater picture. We are 1 in 45 as of December 10, 2015. That is roughly just over 2% of the population. We have endured so much in our progression through therapies and treatments. But we don’t have to do it alone. With that in mind, it gives me great pleasure to announce that The Aspie Dialogues is kicking off its newest campaign to spread awareness for ASD. It’s called the Puzzle Pride Campaign, and here’s how it works.
Rather than just being individual puzzle pieces, we could connect those pieces into a network of patients, advocates, and caregivers. We are strong individually, but together, we are even stronger. Have pride for how far you have come in your life. And acknowledge those who helped you get there. Meet Puzzle Man.
Every April (Autism Awareness Month), I am going to send Puzzle Man as a badge to be worn proudly to a blog or website who, I believe has gone above and beyond for us. I’ll keep a record of recipients right here for all to see. If you receive Puzzle Man, it means that someone is thankful for and has benefited in some way from your presence in this world. We are proud to be Puzzle Men and Women, and we sincerely thank you for all of your support more than our words can ever adequately describe.
BUT DON’T LET ME HAVE ALL THE FUN! You can get in on the Campaign, too, by sending Puzzle Man to someone who you believe has gone above and beyond for the Puzzle (Just make sure you get permission to link back here!):
And once you’re done, post a link in the comments section so everyone can see the great work we all are doing!
Puzzle Man represents everything we stand for, whether it’s more resources, tremendous progress, or even new treatments. No matter what your stake in the Puzzle is, we are all in this together. And together, we reveal the whole picture. I look forward to a world, in which, our Puzzle is completed. Where Puzzle Pieces help and support each other and learn from each other to become all that we can be. …And it all starts with that first piece of the puzzle.
PUZZLE PRIDE AWARD RECIPIENTS. FOR YOU, WE ARE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL.
APRIL 2012 – Understanding Invisible Illnesses (UII) – Jenny Pettit is a natural advocate for those in need. Her UII (pronounced “we”) Campaign has grown into a health advocacy network designed to help make life better for every member. Full Disclosure: Jenny is my sister, who has stood by me for my entire life. It is with great honor and pride that I acknowledge her selfless support for not only the Puzzle Pieces, but for patients of any invisible illness. I cannot think of a better group to receive the inaugural Puzzle Pride Award.
APRIL 2013 – The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support – Dr. Michelle Rowe has always demonstrated the Jesuit ideal of “Men and Women Working With and For Others,” as well as the Jesuit ideal of the “Magis” (striving for the greater), even before the inception of the Kinney Center. I’ve had the pleasure of working under Dr. Rowe for a couple years in college (and even a little bit after graduation), and I know for a fact, that Dr. Rowe’s command of the Kinney Center deserves to make this list. The Kinney Center is open to students, faculty, and the general community at St. Joseph’s University. No matter what your need is, Dr. Rowe (and her staff) will always be happy to point you in the right direction.
APRIL 2014 – Carly’s Voice – Carly Fleischmann is a non-verbal young lady on the spectrum who continuously shatters stereotypes about Autism on a regular basis. She has proven that we Puzzle Pieces can think beyond ourselves for a greater good time and time again. She also shows the world that non-verbal Puzzle Pieces are just as intelligent as the rest of us (if not more so). She has co-written a book called Carly’s Voice with the help of her father, Arthur Fleischmann of John St. Advertising. It would not be fair to acknowledge one without acknowledging the other in the same sentence, so they both receive this year’s Puzzle Pride Award. Both websites will be added to the blogroll. Congratulations!
JULY 2015 – HONORARY RECIPIENT – Charles Martinet (The voice of Nintendo’s Mario) – Mario is a cultural icon; that much cannot be denied. When I worked with the Kinney Center, I noticed that for the many children I worked with, Mario was a distinct highlight of their day. No matter what bothered them at school (or who, for that matter), it was all okay simply because they had the time to unwind with an Italian plumber who stomped on turtles and ate mushrooms to grow. For some of them, it was a bit more than that in a way that’s harder to put into words. Similar to how I was with the Green Power Ranger when I was a small child. Mario is definitely a positive, motivating force in these children’s lives, so much so that the Kinney Center eventually bought a Wii to be used as positive reinforcement for achieving goals. So, it’s with this in mind, I awarded Charles Martinet, the voice of Nintendo’s Mario, this year’s Honorary Puzzle Pride Award. I think we all know where to find Nintendo’s presence by now, so I don’t need to add a link to the blogroll for this one. You can just google “Nintendo,” and I’m sure you’ll all find what you’re looking for.