I made a mistake.
As many of you know, autism awareness month is approaching. I have noticed the many posts about puzzles and I have realized I have made a mistake- and it is time to remedy it.
A bit less than a year ago, I published my book “Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery, and Faith.” Within days of publication, some members of the autistic community reached out to me and requested I change the cover because they found the puzzle pieces offensive.
Being that I live in Israel, I was unfamiliar with Autism Speaks. I didn’t know they had branded the puzzle piece as their own and used it to portray autism negatively. For me, the puzzle represented the puzzle of my life and the challenges sent to me from the heavens. They signified the things my family and I needed to learn more about and grow from. Autism and neurodiversity were part of that journey for all of us. And I did- and do not feel these challenges have been negative, even though they have at times been difficult.
The child on the cover represents my incredible and much-loved autistic son, who has taught us tremendous lessons about the meaning of life. And along with my other neurodivergent children, he has helped me fit together the pieces of my life. They have taught me to appreciate the beautiful things I witness every single day.
At the time, I decided to leave the cover design as it was, as I believed that members of the autistic community would come to understand its true meaning, and it would no longer remain an issue. I also thought it might be worth leaving the puzzle on the cover because it might attract parents of newly diagnosed children, help them understand the positive aspects of neurodiversity, and avoid trying techniques such as ABA.
Throughout the last year, I have realized that this decision was mistaken and that the puzzle piece on the cover is simply upsetting and controversial. I, therefore, have decided to redesign it with the hope that the celebratory colors I have chosen more accurately reflect the beauty and diversity of neurodivergent individuals.
I’m happy to take this opportunity to learn from my lack of awareness and mistakes. I also feel immensely privileged to be a part of the neurodivergent community. I hope to continue working toward creating a more inclusive, equitable world where people’s differences are understood, appreciated, and celebrated.
So, now that I’ve explained myself, I’d like to ask you all a very important question:
What do you think of the new design?
***Many thanks to Liat Perry for the new cover!