Yes…the puzzle piece is the ‘official’ logo for Autism Acceptance/Awareness.
It also the source of some conflict.
Let me first write that I believe in growth – and that often the way something begins isn’t the way it should continue.
Take, for instance, FFA. Until the 1980’s FFA stood for ‘Future Farmers of America.’ In 1988, the organization changed its name to the National FFA Organization. Sure, its history is rooted in ‘Future Farmers of America’ but the organization (and the world) changed. The organization realized that FFA was not just an organization for rural farm students – the organization was for anyone interested in leadership, business, and (yes, of course) agriculture.
We must not be afraid to move forward and leave our ‘known’ ways and thoughts behind.
The original puzzle piece came from the logo of The Society for Autistic Children and it looked something like this…
Now…before all of us spectrum-loving folks get all crazy…remember there is history here. All movements HAVE to begin somewhere – and in those moments, in that part of history, this logo seemed ‘right.’
The thought behind this logo is that our children are puzzling – they are handicapped by a largely (at that time) unknown condition. This conditions prevented them from having ‘normal’ social skills and therefore, they had troubles fitting in. The crying also could have referred to the suffering that children experience by this ‘handicap.’
Trust me, I had A LOT of trouble writing that paragraph…but to know where we are, we must recognize where we have been.
The current logo can (and does) symbolize a variety of ideas:
- the ‘puzzling’ confusion of what autism is (and is not)
- finding a ‘cure’ to the mysterious puzzle (yeah…not a huge fan of that)
- not fitting in (again…not a fan)
For me? For me it represents something awesome and I guess that is the bottom line. The puzzle piece can represent what it means to you. It’s one of the reasons I use the ‘puzzled’ heart as my logo.
What does this represent to me? It represents all of the pieces and parts that go into supporting Tucker’s heart, mind, body, and soul. It is all of us working to ensure he can become everything he wants to become.
A piece for speech pathologists
A piece for occupational therapists
A piece for physical therapists
A piece for his literacy teacher
A piece for his science teacher
A piece for his history teacher
A piece for his math teacher
A piece for his art teacher
A piece for every other teacher we’ve had
A piece for his special education teacher
A piece for his Principal
A piece for his coaches
A piece for his friends
A piece for his teammates
A piece for the adults that surround him
A piece for his parents
A piece for his siblings
A piece for his grandparents
A piece for his aunts/uncles
Most important? We are all working towards helping him realize and describe his piece.
I think you get the point…here are three very simple examples:
- If he slept poorly, I will immediately send a message to his teachers so they are aware that he may be a bit more on edge. I am putting a piece of the puzzle together – I am helping them become more aware AND accepting of behavior changes.
This is not bad, this is support.
- If he is struggling in class, his teachers will immediately send a message. They are helping put a piece of the puzzle together – they are asking for my help. They want to know how to do a better job engaging him and presenting content in a different way.
This is not bad, this is different.
- If his ‘brain is hurting’ he will let me know. He is helping put a piece of the puzzle together – by advocating for his own challenge. He wants to work together to feel better.
This is not bad, this is self-advocacy.
We all work together – we all hold a piece of the puzzle.
We all respect the ‘piece’ that each of us holds.
We all understand the value of teamwork.
The Tucker puzzle. I am honored to be a part of this most amazing, complex, wonderful, frustrating, amazing puzzle.