Symbols and colors play a crucial role in identifying observances, but what happens when the symbol becomes outdated or its meaning changes in the public's perception? Recently, there has been a push to not only move away from the original puzzle symbol, but also to replace the term "awareness" with "acceptance."
The puzzle piece symbol, once used to raise awareness for autism, became controversial among the autism community. Some felt it suggested that autism was a mystery to be solved or that individuals with the condition were lacking in some way.
In response, the puzzle piece was replaced in February 2018 with a rainbow-colored infinity symbol to represent a spectrum, diversity, and difference. It removes the idea that those with autism are missing parts or are incomplete.
Along with these shifts in symbolism and terminology, there is a pivot in how those on the autism spectrum are now considered neurodivergent. In other words, neurodivergent individuals are simply built differently, rather than missing something, broken or disabled.
As our understanding of various conditions evolves, it's crucial to consider the language and symbols associated with them. It's important to keep in mind how societal perspectives shift over time and how this affects the way these conditions are perceived.
So, if you want to use a more positive symbol for autism, use the symbol for autism acceptance rather than awareness, or that of neurodiversity (the rainbow infinity loop, or the gold infinity loop for autism acceptance).