The majority of Autistic People do not agree with the use of the puzzle piece symbol as a symbol for autism. There are a number of reasons for this.
The first and foremost thing you need to know about the puzzle piece is that it symbolizes the hatred, oppression, abuse, and murder of autistic people over the years.
Probably the second most important thing to know about the puzzle piece is that it was created for us without our input. No autistic people were included in the decision to make this our symbol.
The origins of the puzzle piece are dismal, beginning with a man working for the NAS (National Autistic Society in the UK) who believed that autism was “puzzling”. The original logo featured a puzzle piece with a child’s crying face.
Puzzle pieces have also given the impression that autistic people are a puzzle to solve, missing a piece, etc.
Later, the puzzle piece awareness ribbon was created with the intention to symbolize hope that autistic people could seamlessly integrate into “normal lives” after intensive abusive therapies and has often been construed to symbolize hope for a cure for autism. (If you are not aware, autism needs no cure, and autistic people do not want one.)
Currently, Autism Speaks (the world’s largest hate organization for autism, which you can read about in our “Required Readings” or “Autism Speaks” topics) utilizes a singular blue puzzle piece as their logo.
Other uses of the puzzle piece for autism generally involve infantilizing, childish color schemes.
Not only have autistic people repeatedly expressed their distaste for this symbol, but a study was actually conducted that concluded that puzzle pieces elicit a negative response.
There are a small group of autistic people who do not reject the puzzle piece symbol, but instead have “reclaimed” it and have decided that to them, it symbolizes something other than what it truly does.
This is inappropriate because you cannot separate the meaning from this symbol, and because you cannot reclaim a symbol that was never ours, and that is still used by the largest global hate organization masquerading as a charity.
The hate the puzzle piece symbolizes is inextricable from the symbol itself.
If not the puzzle piece and the color blue, what is our symbol?
There isn’t technically one universally used and loved symbol, but autistic people tend to utilize a combination of red, gold, and rainbow with the infinity symbol.
Red, because of the #RedInstead movement that rejects the use of blue to symbolize autism.
Gold, because of the elemental symbol for Gold being Au, which is the beginning two letters of Autism.
Rainbow due in part to the neurodiversity movement, and because of the color spectrum.
The infinity symbol is the recognized symbol for the neurodiversity movement. (Rainbow infinity is commonly seen for neurodiversity on the whole, while red or gold infinities generally symbolize autism.)