Springingtiger's Blog


Puzzling Symbols
April 3, 2014, 21:36
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

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Whenever anyone uses the a jigsaw puzzle piece to symbolise autism there are plenty of others who object, it is so inevitable that some see the whole matter as tedious. We all know the objections, that the symbol implies that autistics are, in some way, incomplete, that they have something missing, or that autism is itself a problem that only needs the missing piece to bring about a solution.

The problem is not with the symbol, whatever it is, the issue is one of whose definition it is. The use of the puzzle piece is similar to the use of the word “retard” or a slave owner calling an African, “nigger”. It is imposed upon a minority by a majority who have abrogated to themselves the right to define what is normal and acceptable. There is nothing wrong with people defining what is normal for them, but they have no right to impose that definition on others; the normal of Autism, or rather the normals of Autism, is not the normal of ordinary humans. I can appreciate that the puzzle piece does make sense for many people and I realise that from the outside autism looks confusing; however no more than society does to the autistic. Perhaps autism does need a symbol around which the community can rally, but please bear in mind that for many autistic people, as a symbol the puzzle piece is as welcome as the Robertson Golly is to black people.

The puzzle piece was an honest attempt to symbolise autism and it worked for some people, but now that so many autistic people are actively advocating and campaigning for the autistic community we need a symbol that does not divide us.

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