Why Aishy Puzzles

Aishwarya Sriram (b. 1981) alias Aishy was diagnosed with autism when she was three years old. Autism is a developmental disorder that usually appears in early childhood and may either occur alone or with accompanying problems such as mental retardation or seizures. While the symptoms range from mild to severe, not all autistic people have the same symptoms either. Doctors still do not know exactly what causes autism, and currently there is no remedy though there are therapies to help autistic people improve their language skills and reach out to others better.

While it is extremely difficult for a person with autism to communicate with others and relate to the outside world, quite a few also have multi-faceted skills. For instance, some autistic children have amazing memories and can recall entire books or television shows word for word. Aishy has a flair for pencil sketching, embroidery and music that she recites from memory, but she is particularly fond of putting together complex jigsaw puzzles. Her intuitive grasp of spatial concepts and her amazing scanning power are notable features of her multi-faceted intelligence -- she does not read instructions or study the images!

Aishy’s passion for jigsaw puzzles began when she was a student at Vijay Human Services, a special school, when a box of puzzles accidentally tumbled out of a cupboard one afternoon. Ten-year-old Aishy, who had been crying to get attention, paused for a moment and assembled the jigsaw puzzle, much to the delight of her teacher. Over the years, she went on to solve more and more of them, and we gradually increased the level of difficulty from 20 to 50 to 100 to 1000 to 1500 pieces. Her appetite for jigsaw puzzles is undiminished to this day. She spends about two hours per day and can complete a 1000-piece puzzle in five days.

The oft-repeated saying in our family is that ‘Aishy solves puzzles but she herself remains a puzzle.’ Dealing with autistic children may often prove difficult and frustrating, but with help, kindness, and understanding, all people with autism can and will show tremendous improvement. We would like to showcase Aishy’s puzzles in public as a reminder that all people in this world are unique, and should be treated with dignity and respect for their very differences!


About Jigsaw Puzzle

From teaching aid to fine art: A brief history of the jigsaw puzzle

jig.saw puz.zle n. a picture stuck into wood or cardboard and cut into irregular pieces which must be joined together correctly to form the picture again.
- Cambridge International Dictionary of English

The origins of the jigsaw puzzle can be traced back to eighteenth century Britain, where cartographers would paste maps onto flat pieces of wood and then cut them up into small pieces with a sharp-bladed tool or jigsaw. Children learnt geography by piecing together different countries and continents of this dissected map. In 1762, a London-based mapmaker and engraver named John Spilsbury hit upon the idea of marketing these puzzles both for children and grownups, using pictures instead of maps. Today, nearly 250 years later, the jigsaw puzzle continues to challenge, intrigue and stimulate people of all age groups the world over. Although primarily intended for leisure and entertainment, jigsaw puzzles are increasingly being used in job interviews and game shows to test analytical ability. Jigsaw puzzles are now available in wood, cardboard, plastic, rubber and foam, and range from pieces of 2 for beginners and children to a mind-boggling 18,000 pieces for adults. There are even electronic jigsaw puzzles, which may not be very tactile, but at least you will never lose any pieces!

Jigsaw puzzles typically come in 500-piece, 750-piece and 1,000-piece sizes. Currently the largest commercially available size is 18,000 pieces. The most common layout for a 1,000-piece puzzle is 27 inches by 19 inches and for a 500-piece puzzle is 19 inches by 13 inches. Most jigsaw puzzles are square, rectangular or round, and have edge pieces that have one side that is either straight or smoothly curved to create this shape. Puzzles with uniform-shaped "fully interlocking" pieces are the most difficult to solve, because the differences in shapes between pieces can be very subtle. In recent times, technology such as computer-controlled laser and water-jet cutting machines have been used to give a much wider range of interlocking designs in wood and other materials.

More engaging, entertaining and less harmful an addiction than television and video games any day, jigsaw puzzles are a great stress buster too. What’s more, a finished and framed jigsaw puzzle can double up as exquisite artwork for your living room.

Welcome aboard the dazzling world of the jigsaw puzzle!


Puzzle Tidbits
  • Jigsaw puzzles were reportedly used by physicians in Ellis Island, USA in the early twentieth century to assess the intelligence quotient of immigrants. They gained popularity during the 1930s Great Depression when they become a therapeutic hobby for most Americans, who would often borrow them from lending libraries.
  • The world’s largest jigsaw puzzle is a 24,000-piece artwork entitled Vida (Life) by Royce B.McClure. Made by a Spanish company called Educa, it measures 428 x 157 cms.
  • The National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships were held for several years in the 1980s and 1990 at Athens, Ohio, United States.
  • Eminent personalities who are compulsive jigsaw puzzle addicts include former First Lady of the United States Barbara Bush, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Queen Elizabeth II
The world's largest jigsaw puzzle - Vida (Life) Barbara Bush Bill Gates Queen Elizabeth II

Other Links
vidyasagar.co.in jambav.com blogs.jambav.com autismindia.com

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