Many Hats Mommy

live the Power of One

My Autism Puzzle Piece


This post is a hard one to write. It may not be very popular. But, just like I felt I should write about how weary I was two years ago, I think I should write this because I’m probably not the only one who feels this way. I do not intend to offend anyone, just share a glimpse into my world.

A puzzle piece is the autism symbol. It’s meant to represent the conundrum that is autism.

I have my own autism puzzle piece, and it’s not my son.


Here’s my autism puzzle piece: I often feel like I don’t fit anywhere. Many times I feel like I’m the puzzle piece from a different puzzle that’s not in the toy drawer anymore. Let me explain.

Since Dr. J has Asperger’s syndrome, he’s not “neurotypical”. That means that though I do have many things in common with other moms–messy kid rooms, what to make for dinner, busy schedules, juggling finances, etc.–I also think about things they don’t. I wonder if the kids on the playground understand what my son means when he says he wants to fight–he doesn’t really want to get INTO a fight with them, he wants them to join his army. I sometimes don’t know what to say to “normal” (for lack of a better word) moms. I’m either tired or just can’t think of things to say because my brain wants to enjoy just being instead of being on high alert.

Many people understand that, especially other special needs moms.

Here’s the kicker.

I often feel like I don’t fit in with autism spectrum moms either. My son can talk. He can talk pretty well and is reading at level or ahead of his peers. So, I often feel guilty talking about things he’s doing around parents whose children barely say, “I love you”.

My son can now pour his own water out of a pitcher or get me an ice pack out of the freezer. He has learned how to unload the dishes he can put away. I hate to discuss those things around parents whose children have difficulty following one-step directions.

We have one car and I homeschool, so we are home almost every day. I am not fighting the school district for services or pushing a doctor for new therapies. I sometimes feel like a fish out of water.

I don’t say any of this to make anyone feel badly. I’m expressing what I deal with inside so that the mom on the other side of the computer screen thinks, “OH! I’m so glad I’m not the only one!”

So where do I fit?Β 

Some days I get pretty down about this. But as I just typed “where do I fit?” I realized…

I fit where God puts me.

After all, God is the Master Designer of the puzzle of my life. For whatever reason, God has put me in the middle of these two worlds. I am thankful He reminded me I fit in His plan, and I will make that enough.

Author: Jenny Herman

Jenny Herman is not anyone special or a hero. She's just a working special needs homeschool mom who uses the Power of One to "just keep swimming". Visit her blog to learn more.

45 thoughts on “My Autism Puzzle Piece

  1. Our path is so similar. Maybe that is why I love you so much!

  2. I can SO relate…thank you for sharing this. I was just writing this morning about outgrowing some issues, but growing into the next set of issues, and it’s difficult to know where we fit. We’re not struggling as much as some, and we’re doing far better than others. We’re in the same boat with cars and homeschooling as well. But you’re absolutely right – we belong, we FIT, right where God puts us. No matter what. He knows about the cars, the school, the dx, and HE saw fit to have us right where we are – for our kids, for our families, for our growth in Him! Thank you for this brave post!

  3. Me, too! I feel the guilt too, because our daughter IS talking and doing many of the things that I wondered if she would do at all….and it hasn’t taken that long. Still, I wonder some of these things too. I cannot answer the question “What is she into these days?” as a ‘normal’ mom of a 2 year old would. Who would ‘get’ that she wants to watch her phonics videos over and over, that I cannot sing in her presence unless it is the same rotation of 5 songs that we sing before bed-time, or that she screams “Ouch!” when seeing crease marks on her arms after her nap (you know, the ones that you get on your arms or face when you’ve slept really hard)? I think I may have found a community of folks who DO get it. πŸ™‚ THank you for your transparency. It helps me.

    • Ah, singing, Wendy. I often feel guilty for all of the church songs my boys don’t know because Dr. J doesn’t like singing. I also feel guilty about the culture information they don’t know, like nursery rhymes, because he doesn’t like silly and he was learning about historical figures instead of Little Jack Horner. Glad you found some people who understand. πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, how I could have written this exact same post … In fact, I have something similar started in a draft post…how high functioning autism/asperger’s is, in some ways, a misnomer. We have so many challenges, but yet we don’t fit in with the other autism moms because our kids are high functioning in lots of ways – which is also a blessing for us. I love you and know you are doing a great job … and yes, we fit right where God put us … thankfully he put us all together with the use of this big wide internet so we don’t have to do it alone. ❀ you!

  5. Just beautiful. This is the very reason I despise aspergers being referred to as “autism.” Autism is much darker, more closed off, removed. Aspergers is a social disconnection, child usually does have some other coordination issues that don’t help with social skills acceptance either, but it’s not the closed off window of “autism” Granted as the rates of both have sky rocketed the lines have become blurred, issues can and do overlap in some children.

    I really get the not fitting in area oh so well….as you know John was once extremely autistic…today there isn’t a smidgen of autism in him, but he is still disabled. I have a hard time getting people to understand he CAN”T use his left hand and arm due to cerebral palsy, not becuase he does not want to touch something. sigh. People think he cannot speak becuase he does not understand language is communication, you know they read that about people with autism, and while it can be true, in our case John’s brain was damaged to the point he cannot use the speech area….but he understands E V E R Y T H I N G! gish. I just say John is the only one of his kind and let it go. Like you I am so blessed for all the things my son can do and I do not fit with others still so strongly autistic in his age group.

    Yep, we just are where God wants us to be…hugs dear friend…to you and those amazing son’s of yours!!

  6. I, too, can relate. Thanks for sharing.

  7. We’re in a similar spot. Hugs to you!

  8. I am right along with everyone here. My son is higher functioning and I do feel, at times, that I don’t know where to fit in! Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. You are not alone—and neither am I!

  10. Thank you for your honesty. Every day I think about what a lonely walk this is. I have to remind myself that God is there beside me but there really is no ‘place’ for me except here, homeschooling & loving my children. Parents of neuro-typical children have NO concept or understanding of these constant challenges and I am always letting someone down because I am unable to meet their expectations.

  11. I am with you! I have two Aspies and another HFAutist all of whom are capable beyond the struggles of others.

  12. I love what you wrote today – it is hard to be honest and talk about how hard this is on you — I am just willing to bet you are speaking directly to some other moms out there that you would FIT perfectly with.

    Thank you for sharing your heart — your son is a cutie!

  13. Beautiful post and honest words. Thanks for remind me that I fit where God puts me. Hugs

  14. Awwwww – what a touching post. Jenny, perk up friend, YOU FIT! You’re a perfect fit for your family, you’re exactly what they need. I know it can get lonely at times. Celebrate your son’s success (which you are to be sooo commended for!!!) Your friends will celebrate with you and be happy, even if they are still struggling. Friends are just that-a-way. What a great example you are to show others behind you that hard work, putting in all that irreplacable Mommy time, homeschooling, love and patience goes a long way. I feel in your shoes soooo often, perhaps in different ways, but yeah, where do I fit in often hits me hard too. Remember, we’re in God’s plan too – and we’re a perfect fit there as well. Love ya and thanks for the inspiration!

  15. That was a “raw” very honest piece. When people are REAL; they always encourage someone else. I also feel I do not fit anywhere for different reasons. I have felt that for a long time but more so now. I always have said and will continue to say: God gave Josh the perfect Mother (Noah also) I honestly don’t know alot of young women who would have and continue to go the lengths you do. If Josh didn’t have you, he would be sunk. Be proud and very happy for ALL the progress he has made. YOU worked hard for him, from his food(cooking baking, trying) to your patience, your giving time, time, time . Taking him where other parents wouldn’t (too embarrassing or draining) encouraged, encouraged him. Many other examples I could give. Boils down to your selfless for him. So enjoy and be happy and relish the days you see the progress and others see it also. YOU and God did it. God in His sovereignty and answering prayer.

  16. I sometimes wonder the same thing. My kiddos are ‘highly’ functioning so they tend to exist in the shadows…their world is a little bit different and others find it so hard to understand them. I have found that role playing has helped us as they can learn to see how others see and understand. It’s almost like teaching a new language or culture …while let’s fight means playing army to us others see let’s fight as aggressive.

    I wish I could have heard you too at 2to1! πŸ™‚

    ~Honey of Mondorfment

    • Thanks, Honey. We have done a lot of practicing around here, which is a big plus for homeschooling! In fact, when we first started homeschooling, one of our areas was called “people practice”. We had a situation at the playground last fall that I have not written about yet because I got so busy. Dr. J went up to a boy on a city playground and said, “Do you want to fight?”, meaning play army as you say. The boy started grabbing and hitting him. Was a sad day for this mama. He was trying to interact and was misunderstood. BUT, we “just keep swimming”.

  17. Yes, we to find it difficult when our child who has high functioning aspergers has challenges socially. He looks and talks “normally”. Yet thinks so differently and as a result has many conflicts day to day. Yet we know our Gods ways are perfect and we are thankful for our child, without him life would be dull:-)

  18. Thank you. Just…..thank you. For being honest and for being real and for being willing to say “I don’t fit”…….especially when I really needed to read that I’m not the only one who feels like I don’t fit! Thank you for reminding me that I DO fit where God put me. I needed that today!

  19. I think we all struggle with where we fit in especially when we are salmon swimming against the societal stream- Christians, Home schooling, you name it! Thanks for being real. I don’t have any autistic children but getting a glimpse into the life of a mom who does helps me support my friends who do and equips me with ways to serve them.

  20. I appreciate everyone sharing. Over the years, my son is now almost 14, I have had so many people say to me “Well, he doesn’t look like he has autism.” What does autism “look” like anyway? They just don’t understand. We have gotten well past the toddler and elementary age tantrums, but, unlike “normal” (I have five children) teenagers, the tantrums still display themselves. We have taught our son to use his words and take his time communicating his feelings and he has developed a keen sense of humor over the past few months that impresses us every time it displays itself. We struggle with academics, especially math, and helping him to “own” the tools that he needs for the rest of his life. We still struggle with tantrums, although they are displayed differently, coming out at unexpected times and with others not understanding his social issues and “forcing” him into uncomfortable situations. On an exciting note: he has a huge interest in flying. He has been constructing unique paper airplanes for some time now. I use to find them all over the house and van. Tomorrow, he will be having his very first flying lesson – up in the air, in a real plane.

  21. I found your blog through pinterest. I really appreciated this post. My 2 1/2 year old has developmental delays that they have not found a “cause” or a “label” for yet. He has seen geneticists, neurologist, etc. He’s in therapy. But b/c he doesn’t have a “label” and at first glance he doesn’t “look” delayed, I feel I don’t fit anywhere either.

  22. Pingback: Autism, Parenting, and Chocolate: My Top 5 Posts from 2013 | Many Hats Mommy

  23. I can see why this is one of the top five posts! Same situation here… Now “mild Aspie” due to many treatments and therapies and prayers (while reminding ourselves she’s our daughter not a project). We homeschool but have 2 cars but not like we go anywhere. We jut moved to this small town and we just don’t fit into the homeschool group. She cried through the handful of co-op classes the group did while confused kids tried to help her. I had to be with her so she could and that made her different.

    The hardest is the lack of support particularly from my FIL who has always said she was “normal” and that it was just me thinking something was wrong and now the homeschooling has destroyed the fatherly relationship we had. He hates it and thinks I’m ruining her life. I get this from others too. I just don’t talk about it. Except to my husband who would just let me get questioned by his Dad and say nothing in my defense. I just keep praying for peace and for everything. Sorry for venting! Love your blog!

  24. Pingback: Resources for Parents of Children with Autism - Golden Reflections Blog

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