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Is the puzzle piece offensive in the autistic community?

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“Many autistic people strongly dislike the puzzle piece as a symbol for autism..” writes Paula Jessop, Altogether Autism’s former autistic advisor. The puzzle piece was originally used by the National Autism Society in UK as a symbol for autism. It also was used by an organization here in America, Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks was continuously used in very big Autism Awareness campaigns in America, leading to the puzzle piece being adopted as “the symbol” for autism.

 

The problem for many autistic people is that Autism Speaks campaigns were particularly negative and problematic to their community. With Autism Speaks being the biggest organization to approach autism from the perspective that autism is a disease requiring fixing & curing which was hurtful and offensive to autistic people. Another advertisement made comments saying autism ruined families. Causing autistic people to find the puzzle piece a reminder of the organization that spent years running public campaigns that framed autism as a tragic disease. The puzzle piece also represents viewing us as “puzzling” or a “mystery”. Often terms used in the past referring to autism. For autistic people this is problematic, as they don’t wish to be viewed as “a puzzle that can’t be worked”.

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