Have I ever told you the story of the Autism Today logo?  When I first
launched my company in 1998, I looked around our community, at the leading
groups, government initiatives, schools etc. to see how they were branding
themselves.  Even then, the puzzle piece had emerged as a powerful symbol
for our community.  To me, the beauty of the puzzle piece is its symbolic
merging of two realities: 1) the struggle of every child with autism, and
his or her family, of not fitting in, and 2) the certainty that each child –
each of these beautiful puzzle pieces – has his or her has its place in
society, and his or her very own role to play.  But as powerful as the
puzzle piece is, it did not symbolize what I hoped for for my own son,
Johnny, whom we had received an autism diagnosis in 1992.

As an optimist, and fiercely protective mom, I wanted a symbol of hope for
my baby.  I didn’t want my kid to grow up walking around with a puzzle
piece, even an imaginary one, stamped on his forehead.  As a mom, I wanted
all my kids, every morning, to leave the house feeling like you do when you
are in class and the teacher gives you a gold star.   I wanted every person
who met him, every teacher, caregiver, professional, parent or classmate to
see that gold star, in his attitude, his spirit, his gifts – yes, even in
his so-called disability.  I wanted them to see everything beautiful, all
the gifts.

So today, it’s the Autism Today star is what you see today on our website,
newsletter, and everything we publish. Take a look at it.  Imagine it as the

symbol of everything wonderful in your own child.  When my graphic artist
first showed it to me, I smiled and knew immediately what I was
looking at.  I saw the shape of my little boy, running, arms outstretched,
both containing and pursuing a brightly shining future.  It even has a
little tummy!

Sometimes I know my sunny outlook seems bullheaded.  Sometimes it annoys
people, who feel it’s more important to be realistic, and not send our kids
out with too dreamy a view of things.  But, as the kids say, that’s how I
roll.  Attitude is everything in life.  (“Accentuate the Positive/Eliminate
the Negative,” as my beloved dad, Jack Simmons, used to say!)

Don’t get me wrong: We do need to focus on the challenges of our children
and adults with  autism, especially those severely disabled by ASDs.  I
applaud, embrace and endorse the outstanding groups who fight this fight
every day.  I am proud to belong in their number as an advocate, a forum and
an autism mom.  They do what they do so well, and much better than I ever
could.  If I have a contribution to make, it’s to be the best doggone
cheerleader our kids have, and to help others, especially our Autism Today
members and friends, do the same, and more of it!!

With love,

Karen