Why the Puzzle Piece Represents Autism?

Logo”s are the symbols that create identities to corporations, companies or even disorders, and are composed of abstract or objective images without words. It will be possible to provide adequate expression with the power of visual expression. Also, it will give recognizability to everything that creates for.

We read it everywhere that Autism Spectrum Disorder is like a puzzle. You need to combine the parts in order to see the main picture. But we forget a detail. We all have different puzzle pieces. Because each child is unique, everyone’s picture and everyone’s puzzle pieces will be different from each other. Therefore, we should not forget that a treatment or therapy method that is useful in another child may not give the same result to your child. The reason is not that this method is not effective but because it is not suitable for your child’s needs.

In this article, I will mention about Autism Spectrum Disorder’s logo which is a puzzle piece, what is created for, whether it is enough and sufficient for understanding what is it or not, and related components with the logo. And then, I will criticize that whether it should be altered or not and how it should be beside the puzzle piece. But first, let me give you little information about what Autism Spectrum Disorder is.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

It is a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests. It is a neurodevelopmental disability that can cause social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

ASD is characterized by significant deficits and impairments in social interaction and communication skills, as well as by the presence of extremely challenging behaviors. Many individuals with autism have significant cognitive impairments as well. On the other hand, also there are people with autism that have superior intelligence.

While families are looking for the answer to the question of autism at an early age, it can help to minimize the effects of autism with the rehabilitation program. Scientists have not yet been able to determine the cause of it, they strongly claim that it is a genetic disorder.

“Puzzle Piece” Logo of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The puzzle piece logo has been the primary symbol of Autism Spectrum Disorder for a long time. It was created by Gerald Gasson who was a parent of children with autism and a member of The Society for Autistic Children. It was first used in 1963 in London.

The Society for Autistic Children uses the logo in order to symbolize the idea that individuals with autism are difficult to comprehend, like a puzzle, and that the cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder is the missing piece.

The community believed that people with autism suffered from a ‘confusing’ situation. They agreed to use the logo. Because it was unlike any other image for charitable or commercial use. At first, there was an image of a crying boy with a puzzle piece. The crying child was used to remind people with Autism Spectrum Disorder suffering from their condition.

At that time since no one else was using a puzzle piece as a logo, the symbol was quickly agreed on.

There are some positive comments from parents of children with autism or even from individuals with autism themselves. For example;

  • A mother says that her child is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma and that’s why she loves the puzzle piece.
  • A mother says that she loves the puzzle piece because it is a part of a unit. She believes that together all of them in their own reality and ways, place each puzzle in the right place in order to create a unit. Unity coming together which represents many pieces as one.
  • According to a mother, it perfectly symbolizes all the different ways that their kids fit together. It symbolizes the complicated ways in which ASD may have happened to their kids. Also, she thinks that it represents how there is no one therapy works for everyone and sometimes it is a whole puzzle of therapies actually work.
  • Some parents like to think that their kids are the completing piece of the human puzzle.
  • A child with ASD likes the puzzle piece. Because it is not about the end result. It is the process of putting the pieces together. It reminds him that each person is unique and their own way of fitting in.

After some time, The puzzle piece has been often criticized by people with autism and their allies for perpetuating hate and stigma, and for shutting out their voices. For instance;

  • A parent thinks that while the original intent of the puzzle piece was positive, it no longer represents the goal of advocacy.
  • According to one mother, the puzzle piece is far more applicable to neurotypical individuals.
  • An individual with autism says he is not a fan of the puzzle piece because he feels it is demeaning to individuals with autism. He offers the infinity sign or heart better, that something Autism Spectrum Disorder represents.
  • One of the people with autism is very angry about the puzzle piece logo. He says that they are not just a puzzle piece. They are not missing anything. They do fit in and they can speak for themselves. He wants from other people to let them support themselves, rather than a neurotypical jigsaw organization that is profiting from pitying them.
  • Another woman with autism says her pieces are not missing and she is not a mystery.
  • A man with autism says that he does not think the puzzle piece is offensive but that at all, but he thinks the meaning some people attribute to it is offensive. They are not missing a piece of the puzzle. They would fit in better with “normal” society if people were more patient and kind. Also, he thinks implying that individuals with autism are puzzles that need to be solved is very rude. They are not all that puzzling. People just need to listen when they communicate. People should accept individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder for who they are.
  • A father of 2 children with autism does not like the puzzle piece logo. Because, in general when doing puzzles the pieces don’t always fit and people don’t always have the patience to find the right piece when they all seem to look the same or even the last piece is missing. So it remains incomplete. He says that his children are not pieces of anything that has to come together to complete any picture at all. And there’s nothing missing. His beautiful children have a unique way of thinking and seeing the world in a different and interesting way.

Other than those, there are many arguments against the logo. Some people find it very offensive. They think it has many different meanings. However, the most important part is which one is the right, and more essential than that is the meaning is good or bad. Here are some of the meanings;

  • It represents that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder are missing a piece of the puzzle.
  • It represents that Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex and mysterious disorder. It needs to be pieced together for being beneficial to an individual with autism.
  • According to some people, it does not represent the fact that individuals with autism fit in.
  • According to some people, it does not represent individuals with autism because they are unique and mysterious.

Moreover, also most individuals with autism find the logo problematic. They say that if someone thought a puzzle piece was an accurate representation of them, they would be pretty ticked off, to put it mildly. They think that the puzzle piece symbol is all about them which are their parents, their families, their friends, their medical professionals, their educators, and researchers. However, not all the people who have autism.

People with autism start to question whether this is not a symbol of ASD but instead a symbol of other people’s own fears and uncertainties. They wonder that if they were the ones with the missing puzzle piece and whether they will ever feel at peace with themselves until they figure out where to look.

After a couple of years, the symbol has been changed. The child which was crying is gone and the logo constituted only 4 puzzle pieces with different colors.

The rainbow color of the logo symbolizes the idea of autism as a “spectrum.” Spectrum means same disorder shows itself with different symptoms in different people. Individuals with ASD are unique. They have a variety of strengths, weaknesses, and challenges. It is impossible to classify them under a simple diagnosis. Instead, autism is a spectrum of abilities and challenges. The rainbow spectrum works as a symbol here since the different colors of it can represent the variety of abilities, as well as the unique nature of each person with the ASD diagnosis.

The puzzle piece logo has always been intended as a symbol of hope. It is a logo that helps create awareness. And when it comes to all special needs the only thing that will ever lead to true universal acceptance, is awareness. That’s why, rather than arguing over things, we should be putting our efforts into joining together to raise awareness and understanding. Then we should try to make the world a better place for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It is interesting that a well-meaning person may use the symbol in a positive way and somebody else might make them feel bad for it, rather than thanking them for supporting children with autism’s future.

As a conclusion, the most important thing which matters is that people use the symbol in a positive light to help create awareness and acceptance around the world.

The most important topic would be that conversations about Autism Spectrum Disorder shift from how other people don’t understand the mystery of autism, to how both individuals with autism and normally developed individuals misunderstand each other. And how we can develop mutual respect for our differences, for multiple ways of communicating, and for an understanding that perspective does not equal wrong or right.

“The Neurodiversity Logo” of Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is a rainbow infinity sign, has been posed as an alternative. The logo celebrates diversity and hope. It should be common in the Autism Spectrum Disorder acceptance movement. However, people who claim that neurodiversity is trying to ride the coattails of the gay and lesbian community for acceptance instead of seeking an identity of its own also see the logo as too passive and easily swamped.

“The Puzzle Ribbon Logo” for Awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The puzzle ribbon was used in 1999 at first. It is the puzzle pattern that reflects the complexity of autism itself. As we mentioned before, it is a spectrum disorder, which means it has tons of complexity even more than we can imagine. There are different shapes and colors in it to represent that diversity. They represent the different individuals with autism and families living with this condition. The brightness of the ribbon represents hope. Hope is increased awareness of ASD thanks to the logo. Then, it gives the opportunity for early intervention and access to appropriate services. Individuals with autism will have a chance to lead full lives which they will able to interact with the rest of the world on their own terms.

This logo is the most enduring symbol. Also, it has worldwide importance because everyone in the world knows this logo. Thought, views, and ideas about this logo are diverse as the condition itself, as what the logo represents. According to different people, it has different meanings. Here some examples;

  • It means that individuals with autism are not alone.
  • It means that individuals with autism are part of the great puzzle of life.
  • It means that individuals with autism are a major confusion to people and stand no chance to ever fit in.
  • It simply means autism awareness. Everyone knows what the autism awareness symbol is, regardless of their knowledge of autism. It is the main point why there is a logo.
  • It means that even though human beings with autism are all different, they all belong and are needed.
  • It means that that they are not alone and that they are unique due to their Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are proud to have it!

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