In the 1960’s people with developmental disabilities were referred to as . When Taylor was young, I called him an autistic child. Now it’s flipped back from a person with autism, to an autistic person – just where I started.
To the National Autistic Society’s credit they’ve evolved and don’t use that image anymore. I decided to do an informal survey of my friends on Facebook about the puzzle piece logo. A puzzle piece implies a mystery to be solved or something to be put together. Is that really hurtful or did we make that up to feel better?
I believe my son is a mystery – still, after almost 26 years, and he is ‘missing’ certain understandings, skills and abilities as an ‘autistic person.’ He would tell you – as he told a group of volunteers at a training he helped me facilitate yesterday ‘I just don’t get certain things.’ Is it insulting to imply through imagery a particular truth about him? It’s a complicated puzzle to me and the logo speaks all that to me.” Marge Pamintuan, parent, “It’s a symbol – perhaps to some, it’s a ‘missing’ piece.
I love the puzzle piece.” Sally Verduzco, parent, “I love the puzzle piece… Together all of us in our own reality and ways, place each puzzle in the right place to create a unit. Many pieces as one.” Savana Rose, parent, “I really like the puzzle. I like it because it’s not about the end result, but the PROCESS of putting the pieces together.
To me it does perfectly symbolize all the different ways that our individual kids fit together. I also like it because it reminds us that each person, even though all grouped in as being on the spectrum, is still unique and has their own way of fitting in.” There were some who wouldn’t mind keeping the puzzle piece if the message behind it was reframed.
It symbolizes the complicated ways in which this disorder may have happened to our kids. Jennifer O’Toole, “I viscerally dislike the puzzle pieces as symbols of that which must be figured out and ‘solved.’ However!
By Debra Muzikar As language evolves so does symbols.
The origins of the puzzle piece, the primary symbol for autism, go back to 1963.
It was created by Gerald Gasson, a parent and board member for the National Autistic Society (formerly The Society for Autistic Children) in London.
The board believed autistic people suffered from a ‘puzzling’ condition.
They adopted the logo because it didn’t look like any other image used for charitable or commercial use.
Included with the puzzle piece was an image of a weeping child. As usual the responses I received were intelligent and thought provoking.
The weeping child was used as a reminder that Autistic people suffer from their condition. On the side of appreciating the puzzle piece logo, parent Keri Bowers writes, “the political correctness of so many things in today’s world is disturbing to me.
When I researched, I was reminded how far we’ve come in our use of language to describe people with developmental disabilities. It’s hard to keep up, actually, as the terms flip – as in person first language (PFL).