Interview with Melissa Winter, founder of The Puzzling Piece

wintersThe Puzzling Piece – Melissa Winter is founder of The Puzzling Piece and mother to Max and Sam, Max has autism. The aim of the Puzzling Piece is to help those families who are affected by autism and to raise autism awareness. All proceeds raised are donated to charity.

We wanted to learn more about the services and support that The Puzzling Piece provide for families and we were lucky enough to be able to ask Melissa a few questions.

We firstly asked Melissa if she could tell our readers what The Puzzling Piece is and what resources and services they offer.

Melissa told:

“It is the mission of The Puzzling Piece to raise Autism awareness, as well as help families that have been touched by Autism feel loved and supported through the gift of technology.  The Puzzling Piece also honors those who help the children and families touched by Autism by making donations to Autism based non-profit organizations with each sale that is made. “

The Puzzling Piece run an IPad challenge for families of autistic children. The challenge is that if the family sell 60 pieces of jewelry, the child is given a new iPad.

Melissa further explains:

“Through awareness and the efforts to place iPad’s into the hands of children, teachers and therapists, the Puzzling Piece strives to enhance the lives of children and families touched by Autism. The Puzzling Piece is my way of supporting others walking in my shoes.”

laughingMelissa then further adds that when she first received Max’s diagnosis she felt very alone.

“I did not know any other families dealing with the same issues. I created The Puzzling Piece so others moms can get answers, and help them get the tools they need. Sometimes people just need to meet a positive person to give them the hope they need to move forward on their journey.”

We asked Melissa if she could tell us a little about the diagnosis process and the very early years with Max. We also asked what help and support, if any, she received.

“When my son Max was just over a year old my husband thought something was not right. At 18 months we started with hearing tests, and then Speech. We knew that he had a delay but the diagnosis was not given until Max was 3 and a half. Yes I had the support of my family, and some friends but most people really don’t know what to say or do when you tell them. I found people wanted to help but they did not know how. We did hours of all different types of therapy with lots of love, hope and  a big team of therapists.”

1thoughtWe then went on to ask Melissa how things are now.

“Things today are much different; Max is now in a 3rd grade class room with a full time paraprofessional. We do have an after school tutor, and we still struggle with reading. Max is a happy kid. He works harder than other kids to get to the same place but he gets there. We do need to push him and friendships are hard, but I feel we are in a good place.”

We asked Melissa if she could explain to our readers how The Puzzling Piece helps other nonprofits and autism charities.

“We help other nonprofits by donating to them. Every time someone wins an iPad, we also make a donation to help a nonprofit with the funds we raise through the sale of our products. We also have a fundraising program were they can sell our products.”

We finally asked Melissa if there was anything she would like to share with our readers and especially to those parents of children who are on the spectrum. She had this to say:

1we r“I would NOT say it’s been easy,  but I will say it’s worth it. Parents need to go with their gut. If you feel your child is not clicking with a teacher or therapist change it up. You’re not stuck, and everything does not work for everyone. So keep trying new ideas and keep asking questions. Make sure when you sign your child up for any activity that you share with the staff your child’s story. I feel when I put all my cards on the table that my son and the other people involved have a better chance to succeed. Examples would be camp, a baby sitter, and after school program.”

She then further added:

“One of my friends came to me and  asked how to explain that Max has autism to her kids. I said PLEASE tell them that Max wants to be included and he is just unsure of how to include himself. Please keep asking him to join the group, one day he will say yes. He is just not good at social skills. But he is great at video games and Lego.”

We would very much like to thank Melissa for taking the time out to share her story and her autism service with us.

The Puzzling Piece website can be found here www.ThePuzzlingPiece.com

You can email Melissa at info@thepuzzlingpiece.com

You can follow The Puzzling Piece on Facebook