A few days ago, I shared with you how I find my Zen place. Painting, yard work, home decorating… I enjoy all of it. But the place I go to to get lost in an enjoyable past time is puzzle-making.

Ironically, it’s while I’m focused on a 500 or 1,000 piece puzzle that I’m listening to interesting and instructive podcasts. I’m working out how the pieces fit, literally and figuratively.

My puzzlemaker of choice is Dowdle – Eric Dowdle is an artist whose lively personality expresses itself in his colorful and happy paintings of Americana, famous world destinations, and the people inhabiting them. I’ve spent countless hours working several of his high quality puzzles, and have joined his email list to alert me of his latest offerings.

Interestingly, the topic of this week’s Dowdle email addresses Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the relationship it has to the symbolic puzzle piece. April 2 was/is National Autism Awareness Day.

What struck me was this one sentence:

“It is estimated today that 1 in 54 children have ASD.”

Dowdle doesn’t go into the cause of autism or the political implications. But that one sentence says volumes. One in 54 children have ASD.

Studies show that number has increased since the practice began of vaccinating babies with a triple dose of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).

Millions of moms believe it was that MMR injection that caused their baby to become autistic. We know Big Pharma has made untold fortunes with vaccines. And BIG Pharma is protected by BIG Government, not held liable or responsible for damages caused by their vaccines.

It’s not difficult to put together the pieces that form the big picture. One that should tell us to tread carefully when considering allowing vaccines to be injected into one’s human body. There’s nothing puzzling about that…

Eric Dowdle’s essay on autism and puzzles.



April 2nd is National Autism Awareness Day. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is something most of us have heard of or know someone affected by the condition. Still, most of us do not have much of an understanding of ASD. Have you ever been curious as to why the puzzle piece is the symbol for Autism? It is a story with a lot of information that is worth knowing. 

The term Autism is frequently used in modern society, but due to the complexities of ASD, many are not sure precisely what Autism Spectrum Disorder is. Research is uncovering more information all of the time about the condition. The CDC has this definition on their webpage:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.


What does ASD look like? That is a complicating aspect of the spectrum. While some with ASD may be apparent, others you may never know. Some with ASD may be socially challenged, unable to speak or interact, and need significant attention. Others function as professionals working beside you daily or even as your boss. Every person’s ASD profile is unique. Regardless of their place on the spectrum, those with ASD add a special aspect to the lives they contact.

In 1963 the National Autism Society of London adopted the puzzle piece as a symbol of the condition. Gerald Gasson advanced it as he felt it was a “puzzling” condition, thought to be exceptionally rare. Over time the identification of the puzzle piece with Autism became synonymous as more Autism organizations adopted it. Funding from these groups has advanced diagnosis and understanding of the frequency and signs of the condition. It is estimated today that 1 in 54 children have ASD. The various organizations seeking to bring awareness and assistance to the issue, have all used the puzzle piece symbol, attributing their individual meanings. There are ribbons, hearts, and blocks made of brightly colored puzzle pieces. Due to the differing philosophies of the groups, intense feelings have arisen. While many still use the puzzle piece as all or part of their logo, some feel alienated by it and feel that it marks them as tragic and defective. Some are advocating a rainbow infinity symbol to reflect the spectrum.

We at Dowdle love the puzzle piece image, obviously. To us, each puzzle piece is uniquely beautiful and necessary to the successful completion of the puzzle. The differences we each bring to life’s abundant mosaic are essential. When people assemble a puzzle, be it 300, 500, or 1000 and find one piece missing, it creates a good deal of stress, and believe me, we hear about it. Suddenly the other 999 or 499 pieces are wanting because of the missing one. We are all pieces of life’s puzzle, and each has a role to play, and when a piece is missing, it matters even one of millions or billions. We believe in the worth of the individual. To us, there are no missing pieces. It is our hope that we will each take the occasion of National Autism Awareness Day to strive to give understanding and support to all those around us, whether or not we can see their unique needs. Every piece matters.