“If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism,”-Dr.
There are so many different discussions going on about autism at the moment. We're lucky to live in a time when people who are #ActuallyAutistic are raising their own voices ad advocating for themselves; when places, people and institutions are starting to make changes so everyone feels welcome; when awareness is starting to be spread among the general public.But all of these conversations are making one thing clear: autistic or not, everybody is different. Or, as Dr Stephen Shore put it: “If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.”
So if all autistic people are different, how do you find one single sign or symbol that represents them all?
That's the question that's been asked a lot over the past few years, and nobody has an answer. There are currently multiple autism symbols in use, and often picking one to use comes down to personal preference. To help you, here's a list of some of the most commonly used autism symbols with a bit of background info to help you understand some more about them:
The puzzle piece is an interesting one-it's probably the most widely used and best-known autism symbol, but over the past few years it's also become a little controversial.
Some people feel that it links back to some less pleasant periods or organisations in autistic history, while others argue that autism is a lifelong condition, not just for children as the puzzle piece seems to imply. Nonetheless, attention deficit disorder the puzzle piece does have its upsides: it's versatile, it's widely known and used, and it's been a part of autism research and identity since autism first came into prominence in the public sphere.
I personally like the puzzle piece, because it reminds me of how everyone is different and unique, but together we all fit together to make a bigger picture. But it's precisely because we're all different that we all have different opinions of the puzzle piece, which is why there are some other autism symbols rising in popularity, such as…
Like the puzzle piece, the infinity sign has lots of different interpretations-but the general agreement is that it symbolises limitlessness. This is especially important to lots of autistic people who have been living in a society where an autism diagnosis is often seen as limiting, hindering or disabling.
Whereas, in actual fact, autism is just a different way of seeing the world, and often the biggest limitations autistic people face are externally imposed by society. That's one of the biggest reasons why raising autism awareness is so important, and it's clear why some autistic people prefer to use the infinity symbol in doing so: to make people accept autistic people without seeing them as limited by their autism.
Of course, if you can't make up your mind about which autism symbol to use, it's always good to go with the option that promotes awareness and acceptance across the board: the awareness ribbon. Different colours symbolise different issues, but there is an autism-specific awareness ribbon (it's multi-coloured and decorated with the puzzle pattern).The awareness ribbon is a lovely, open and inclusive way of showing support to autistics and anyone else with specific conditions or disorders.
This post has just been a quick summary of some of the key features, points and symbols of the autism symbol debate.
But I've only scratched the surface-I'd love to hear some more perspectives! Which is your favourite autism symbol? Do you feel one represents autism more than the others? And what autism-related issues would you like to raise awareness of? Reply in the comments-and remember, be respectful of others' opinions and experiences!