The reason for me writing this blog post is to ask if we need to change the Autism symbol?
The puzzle piece symbol was first created in 1963 as the logo for the National Autistic Society (NAS.) This first NAS logo was designed by a parent member of the Executive Committee, Gerald Gasson.
Here below is the symbol as it was in 1963
As the original symbol was created in 1963 and we are now in 2018, is it about time we changed the puzzle piece symbol?
Look it was 1963, I’m sure that Gerald never intended for anyone within the Autism Community to be so divided on the issue of wanting to change our symbol because people felt that the symbol didn’t truly represent the Autism community.
In my opinion there is nothing particular wrong with this symbol, but we’ve come a long way in our approach and our attitude as a society and we need to make sure our symbol represents that.
Since 2002 we have abandoned the original logo but kept the symbol the same and today we have this as our national logo. Although some Autism Organisations have their own symbol we don’t have a nationally recognised one.
The idea behind the puzzle piece is that it represents the complexity of the Autism condition.
The interlocking, multi-coloured puzzle piece has become the international symbol of Autism. Its significance has become multi-faceted.
For some it represents the mystery and complexity of the disorder, for others it represents the mechanical nature of an Autistic person’s thought process. The bright colours are said to represent hope.
Some Autism organisations still use the puzzle piece but they put their own spin on it (See below)
For me the ribbon and the puzzle pieces within in and its various colours represent the diversity inherent in Autism and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum.
To me the bold graphic also signifies a brighter future and a greater understanding of Autism awareness.
Others have a different idea of what the ribbon and the puzzle piece mean to them.
A recent poll run by the Autism Society found that the answers that they received ranged from some seeing the ribbon as a symbol of belonging to others viewing it as a sign of isolation. To some people, the puzzle piece meant they did not fit in.
I can see both viewpoints here; – on the one hand people feel that it defines them and they can see the positives and well-meaning behind the puzzle ribbon.
Others when questioned, said that they resented the idea of Autism being depicted as a puzzle that needs to be “solved.” To them, the puzzle piece indicates that they are too mysterious to understand.
Some are of the belief that the symbol of the puzzle piece and the mystery that surrounds Autism are simply outdated. And people from within the Autism community are calling for a new symbol to signify the cooperation required by society to make changes in support of individuals on the Autism spectrum.
Whether you see the puzzle piece as a symbol of diversity and hope or a motif representing isolation, the design has a major place in the Autism community and it is one of the most recognised symbols of Autism awareness.
In the end, I believe symbols are important, just as words are.
The symbol we choose to represent ourselves should reflect our values.
Carry on the Conversation
Are you happy with the current Puzzle Piece logo in it’s current form? Or do you think that it’s about time that we changed our design? Let me know in the comments below.
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.