Pieces of the Puzzle



According to the National Autism Association, autism affects one in every 68 children in the United States and boys are four times as likely to have this disorder than girls. For as long as I can remember, autism has been recognized by a symbol of a puzzle piece. The puzzle piece symbol has been used as an awareness symbol since 1963 but some people are now saying it is a negative symbol and should no longer be used for autism. In fact, there was a study done by the National Autistic Society which found that the general public associated the puzzle piece symbol as a negative symbol depicting that something is missing, imperfect, or odd. In fact, even the scientists that are studying autism claim to be looking for the “missing piece of the puzzle.”

Is the Puzzle Piece a Negative Symbol?

Is it really a negative symbol? It is so well-known to people that getting rid of the puzzle piece symbol may affect the public’s perception of awareness. In other words, they are used to seeing the puzzle piece when referring to autism so they may not recognize a new symbol. In addition, many people like the puzzle piece symbol as it refers to everyone is different but we are all part of the whole. According to the creator, Gerald Gasson, a parent of a child with autism as well as a board member of the National Autistic Society, the symbol was used to depict the fact that it is a complex and puzzling condition. Another group, Team Autism 24/7, states that “the interlocking, mutli-colored puzzle piece has become the international symbol of autism. Its significance has become multi-faceted. For some it represents the mystery and complexity of the disorder, for others it represents the mechanical nature of an autistic person’s thought process. The bright colors are said to represent hope.” The Autism Society decided to use a puzzle ribbon in 1999 rather than the puzzle piece and they said “The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services/supports, people with autism will lead full lives able to interact with the world on the own terms.”

Symbol, Logo, or Label

So, what do you think? Would you rather see the puzzle piece or the puzzle ribbon? Honestly, many people really do not care for any symbols or logos because they consider it a label and nobody should be labeled. However, these same people recognize that having a universal symbol can raise awareness and help spread the knowledge about autism because many people still have no idea what it is. Whichever you choose, the puzzle, ribbon, or no symbol at all, it is important to make more people aware of this tricky condition so it can be recognized and treated as soon as possible. There are too many parents who just ignore the signs and hope it will “go away.” That is not going to happen. Some of the signs include: 

·         Nonresponsive to verbal cues
·         Lack of motor skills
·         Inability to communicate verbally (uses pointing or gestures)
·         Little or no eye contact
·         Resistant to change
·         Lack of emotion
·         Tantrums or crying for no reason
·         Lining up objects
·         Spinning things
·         Obsession with certain things
·         Does not like cuddling
·         Plays alone rather than with others
·         Repeats words or phrases·  

If your child or a child you know has any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to a professional. You can click here to find an online psychiatrist or therapist and you do not even need an appointment.

Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.



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