What the autism puzzle piece means to me

When I first started researching autism, I kept coming across a symbol of a puzzle piece. Sometimes it had a ribbon behind it and sometimes it was just a blue puzzle piece on its own.

I also saw it displayed as four garishly coloured pieces joined together and an equally vomit worthy ribbon made up of those four coloured pieces.

I had no idea what it meant, so I did some further digging and I discovered that it’s a common symbol used to represent autism. I also discovered there are a number of varied opinions regarding its use. Some embrace it while others find it deeply offensive. When I read up on its origin and continued use in the world, it wasn’t hard to see why it’s not well liked.

Dating back to 1963, the puzzle piece was originally created by the board of the National Autistic Society in London because they felt that autistic people were ‘puzzling’ and mysterious. To top it off someone decided it would be a good idea to include an image of a crying child to communicate suffering.

Image source: The Art of Autism

While I certainly don’t see myself as a mysterious puzzle to be solved, the puzzle piece symbol does bring me comfort. It resonates with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and understand the views of those who find the thing offensive. Every time I see it used to represent something that simply isn’t true, I’m offended too!

The thing is, I spent almost 30 years not knowing I am autistic. I grew up believing I was a horrible person who did not belong in this world. But that’s not true and I know that now. I am not a bad person, I was simply missing a key piece of information that would have changed everything. When I got my diagnosis, everything clicked into place for me and the picture is now complete. That is why I named this blog My Missing Piece. Not because puzzle pieces mean autism but because it’s MINE. This is my truth.

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