The Autism Puzzle Piece

I have just asked a disability organisation to take away the puzzle piece from their logo.  While seen as the main symbol for Autism, and while for now, the only symbol for Autism (some have tried to get the infinity symbol going, but it hasn’t really caught on yet), it is still incredibly offensive to the Autism community.

From the little research I have done, it seems that the puzzle piece may have been first used by the National Autistic Society (who has since removed it for a more appropriate logo).  It since caught on with all manner of other organisations, most of whom still use it, despite the pleas of people on the spectrum not to.

The puzzle piece is said to signify how people with Autism are “puzzles” that “do not fit in” and are “a problem to be solved”.  Of course, in order to solve the problem that is us, organisations such as Autism Speaks need a lot of money for research.  Parents need to spend a lot of money on therapy in order to get their children to talk, be social, make eye contact.

Just asking us about who we are and how Autism affects us and what we think can help, or allowing us to use assisted communication, or leaving us to be alone, or giving us permission to look in whatever direction pleases us, seems to be just too much trouble.

Treating us as human beings in our own right, seems to be just too much trouble.

For a person with Autism, the puzzle piece does not represent awareness.  It does not represent the puzzle that is Autism.  It DOES remind us that we “do not fit in”, rather than reassure us that being different is OK.

It does tell us that we are “a problem”.

It does tell us that we are “less than”.

It does make my stomach sink and my heart hurt.

It IS offensive.

Just in case it is taken down, here is an image of the link above.  The site apparently for “improving the lives of people in the Autism community”.  I think they actually mean improving the lives of those who have to deal with the Autism community myself.  I particularly liked (i.e. really hated) this bit – “The puzzle piece is so effective because it tells us something about autism: our children are handicapped by a puzzling condition; this isolates them from normal human contact and therefore they do not ‘fit in’.””  Ugh.
For the record – this is a business and it might well be a good one.  I don’t know this business or anyone who is associated with it.  I do not even live in the same country.  It came up as one of the first hits in a Google search is all.  I won’t retract what they have done, however if they see the light, I’ll be happy to report it.  More than happy!!!

Offensive website ASD

Disability consumer and activist. Pissed off since 1995... Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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Posted in Autism, Disability, Politics
4 comments on “The Autism Puzzle Piece
  1. Thank you for this post. It has given me a different perspective and I will no longer associate the puzzle piece as a positive symbol of Autism. I appreciate when people that are actually diagnosed on the Autism spectrum write about their feelings. It helps people without the diagnosis to understand, and that is better than anything that an organization can tell us about it.

  2. I was actually just about to use the puzzle piece as a logo for my highlights on Instagram, I never saw it that way. But I do now and I feel where you are coming from.

  3. Avi Sam says:

    I do notagree with this. A puzzle piece does not mean being different is NOT ok. A puzzle is made of all different types of shapes and edges, but you NEED those different shapes and edges to build and keep everything together. You cant have a complete puzzle with any piece missing. The way i see it is that piece that is sitting on top, is the final piece to finish the entire puzzle, which is many ways is the most important piece.

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Pissed off since 1995. Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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