Puzzle pieces

9 April 2020

Performer Molly Parker writes about the origins of Jigsaw, one of the selected shows for this year's NSDF

I have two younger brothers, Max and Josh. Max is 19 and Josh is 16. They were diagnosed as autistic when I was really young – so it’s the norm for me. They’re both non-verbal autistic… basically, they can’t speak (or won’t speak), can’t shave, can’t drive, can’t cook… they’re not just non-verbal autistic, they’re disabled and they always will be. 

I’m Molly (their sister) and I’m 22. I’ve got three tattoos, an equals sign on my tit (‘cause feminism), one half of the McDonalds logo on my ankle and a Jigsaw piece on my wrist. It’s the national symbol of autism – a Jigsaw piece.

As I said, it’s always been normal for me really. It wasn’t until I moved out that I realised other people could speak to their siblings. I mean, that sounds stupid – obviously I knew people could speak to their siblings, I just never witnessed it I guess. Moments of realisations like this were (and I guess are) the only times I feel a bit detached from Max and Josh. I mean, it’s hard for me to form a connection with my brothers, a ‘normal’ connection, anyway. Then we started this show. What began as a conversation to a mate about my brothers, turned into a process that I never realised was needed. But having weeks to discuss their behaviours, their mannerisms and their differences helped me feel closer to them.  And hopefully, it helps those watching realise that disability inclusiveness is still an issue. 

We can never know how Max and Josh feel or what they really want to say. But we can imagine. The world-wide pandemic of Covid-19 has left the world worried and frightened. People are struggling to cope with the change in routine and the obsessive hand washing and cleaning. That’s how I imagine someone on the autistic spectrum might feel day-to-day.

I’m grateful for Max and Josh. I want to tell them that I love them. I’m just figuring out how to do that still. 

@noffmag / [email protected]