Why the jigsaw symbol for autism?

The puzzle piece logo, signifying autism awareness, started appearing in the early 60s. Today, this logo is frequently seen on pins, key chains and promotional materials which is an indication of how much autism awareness and advocacy has increased. The logo was in fact intended as a method of raising autism awarenessSymbolises Social Interaction. Those who are affected by autism and their families today also use it as a means of indicating their commitment to funding research for a cure. It has come to be a bit more complex nowadays however and is not without its critics. The symbolism of the puzzle pieces, its colours and the criticism are outlined below.
Puzzles, by definition, can be difficult to solve given the number of pieces and the permutations possible. Autism, in that sense, is not unlike a puzzle, with its many complexities and mysteries. ASD is notoriously difficult to define within normal medical terms and definitions. The puzzle piece is hopefully, meant to inform others, that although autism is complex and often mysterious, it is well worth their time understanding and unravelling these mysteries, for the sake of the ASD individual. It has become a rallying point for people wishing to create awareness amongst NT people, to autism. Varied shapes and interlocking complex curves represent the diversity of ASD people as well as the family members of someone with autism. The ability to interconnect pieces symbolises that this disorder affects all of us. The bright and basic colours used symbolises hope for defeating the disorder. Although seemingly a memorable and harmless (not to mention successful) advocacy symbol, critics are numerous. Many do not appreciate the “branding” that an individual is a puzzle to be “solved” but rather simply a unique individual. Others criticise the fact that the logo usually shows the puzzle missing a piece as if something is missing from their family member. My personal and perhaps unpopular opinion is that it has served as an  effective symbol for creating awareness and that those supporting ASD research funding and identifying with autistic people, would do well by proudly displaying the logo. Whether in jewellery, badges or bumper stickers. It’s now almost sixty years that this logo has been raising awareness for research and funding for autism needs.
It remains a great sourced of controversy amongst the autistic community with many against the idea of being a  “broken” or “missing” piece yet others argue that it’s a symbol that the neurotypical can easily recognise.
What is your opinion on this?

2 thoughts on “Why the jigsaw symbol for autism?”

  1. hello! I must confess this is my first time coming into touch with this info! i never knew that puzzle pieces were symbolic of autism. well, i now know and think it does fit its purpose. autism is quite complex with its spectrum….never two or three individuals symptoms are the same, yet it is still autism! but has you say there is hope with more and more people becoming aware and more tolerant and accepting of the ones affected by it. lets keep spreading this aware for a more tolerant and better world! thanks for the reminder.

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