For years, autistic people have been condemning the use of the colorful jigsaw puzzle piece that stands as an international symbol for autism awareness. But their voices haven’t been able to overpower the media push to use the symbol. It’s everywhere: on clothing, keychains, coffee mugs, license plates, organization logos and promotional materials. Many families use the logo to advertise “autism awareness,” their personal connection to autism, or their commitment to finding a cure. The symbol represents the complexity of autism and how little is known about it. On the surface, it seems like a memorable and harmless advocacy symbol. But I don’t buy anything with a puzzle piece on it because of how autistics have condemned the use of this symbol. This post discusses the reasons why the puzzle piece logo has become so problematic.



Note: This was left as a comment on the original post.

The puzzle piece represent life unworthy of life and better off dead than disabled. The debate on the puzzle piece being used and seeing parents say their child loves the piece tells me they are not connected to the autistic community, culture and history.

It’s like watching people who haven’t been affected by the ugly of this hate symbol battling over their right to use it according to their personal feelings on the matter. This is a hate symbol and the continued use of it, and the defense of the use of it, is incredibly disrespectful and insulting.

If the puzzle piece symbol is used in a community space or learning spaces, it is the first sign I know this space is not for me or my Autistic children.

The hate symbol is part of the ‘autism community’ not the Autistic community. We need not cured (eugenics) and we’re not better off dead than disabled (Eugenics again). We are worthy of life, a place in the community and we do contribute meaningfully to society. We also light it up gold for a better future for all Autistics born today.

Parents of Autistic children, please show respect and cease your use of this symbol. You cant change the meaning of this symbol because you ‘feel’ differently about it. You aren’t the one who has suffered under it’s use. You’re recreation of the meaning doesn’ tin fact change the actual meaning and it doesn’t change mine, or any other Autistic’s, ugly experience of it – nor my kids.

If you don’t understand how ugly and deep eugenics get pushed on Autistic people as a cure, — or understand how we’re perceived as a “burden the world can’t afford” (eugenics talk regardless of how you spin it) go look up Aktion T4 and note why we Autistics are fighting so greatly to protect and guard the generation of Autistics being born today. They are worthy of far better than this symbol.

Eve Reiland

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