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Why I’m Not Choosing a Puzzle Piece Tattoo to Represent My Autism

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I am autistic. I am absolutely proud of being autistic. I am proud to say I am on the autism spectrum. This is a big part of me. I have always wanted to get a tattoo about my autism. I am a visual, logical thinker. I wanted a tattoo with no words but a visual representation of my autism. I want to look at this tattoo and have it mean autism to me. Some people have puzzle pieces to represent themselves or others they love on the autism spectrum. That is fine, but to me, I am not a puzzle piece.

To me, my autism is just my brain wired differently. I am not broken. I simply have the ability to do things different than you. I may even do or say things others have never thought about because I think outside the box. I do not feel like a missing piece to the puzzle. Before I was officially diagnosed, I knew there was a piece of me missing. I didn’t understand myself because something was different in me than others. But after being diagnosed, I no longer feel associated with the puzzle.

A puzzle piece to me resembles the need to solve something or fix something broken. I do not feel that autism needs to be “solved” (or “cured”). I feel that autism needs to be accepted and understood. I feel that those on the autism spectrum need to be accepted, respected and understood. I do not speak for everyone who has autism, but a puzzle piece is not a visual image of autism to me.

My birthday happens in two months. My fiance and I have a tradition of getting tattoos for our birthdays. Next January, my birthday month, I plan to get a tattoo of my autism. For my autism awareness, of my autistic brain. A visual image of how my brain is wired differently, like a PC computer versus a Mac, and rainbow spectrum since everyone on the autism spectrum is diverse. A spectrum of colors will resemble diversity. I am also a painter who loves to paint abstract paintings. In this tattoo of rainbow colors, I will ask the tattoo artist to make it an abstract painting to ensure a part of me is in the imagery.

A puzzle piece is not a description of my autism, and the above reasons are why I cannot tattoo it on my body for that reason. I want a tattoo to resemble me, my autism and autism — a spectrum of diversity — in general.

Author’s note, January 24, 2016: Tattoo artist Jacqsun Jones (Dermapunct Tattoo in Hudson Valley, NY) created this custom tattoo from my description in this article. Here is my tattoo for what represents me and my autism:

Rainbow color tattoo that symbolizes author's autism

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 21, 2016
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