I know many people find the ‘puzzle piece’ analogy for Autism an irritating one as many use it to indicate that a piece of the puzzle is missing which in turn makes people think that all ASD girls/boys grown-ups have something missing; that they are not whole, not complete, less than everyone else. Obviously this is total and utter nonsense but to be honest, our daughter is often an absolute puzzle to us.
In her case there are are certainly no missing pieces, I actually think there is a whole other set of interchangeable pieces in a box in the corner that she randomly pulls new pieces from. She is like a 1000 piece jigsaw with about 250 back-up pieces. Once we think we have the corner piece lined up and the straight edges sorted, we realise that nope, it no longer fits together and we need to try again. What we thought we had managed to figure out has changed, shifted and morphed into something more complex.
Believe me, I am trying to get everything straight in my head, I am trying to do all I can to help her, I am trying to be patient, I am trying to be consistent but sometimes, the sheer emotional energy required to constantly tread on eggshells, abandon spontaneity and battle against the barrage of ‘I hate you’, ‘I hate you’, ‘I hate you’ is enough to make the most patient of people doubt their ability & sanity to keep working things out. I’m no good at riddles and cryptic crosswords hold no appeal but this puzzle is one I am determined to keep working at because our beautiful girl is worth it.
Her behaviour from day to day puzzles me, her inability to see that the tears coursing down my cheeks are the results of her behaviour, her lack of understanding that saying ‘hello’ to someone can be a mood setter or mood changer, the fact that she can switch from laughing angel to sharp-tongued dictator is more complex than the scoring system in Dixit (which, in my opinion, is the best game ever, closely followed by Dog Bingo).
I suppose I am new to this game, I need to keep practising, I need to gain those 10,000 hours to become a master, I need to play until my eyes are bleary and each mental move is embedded in my brain’s muscle memory. It is a game I will need to keep playing for a very long time to come (do not pass Go, do not collect £200). It is not a game I can pack away, I need to keep playing it every day to come. I just hope one day I get a high score.