National Autism Awareness Month: April 1 - 30, 2019

The puzzle ribbon was adopted in 1999 as the universal sign of autism awareness. Although this image is a trademark of the Autism Society, the organization has granted use to other non-profit organizations in order to demonstrate unity and advance a universal mission as opposed to any individually held interests or promotion of a single organization.

The Autism Awareness Ribbon — 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.

The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most enduring and recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Yet, views about the iconic marker are as diverse and wide-ranging as the spectrum it represents.

  • That I am not alone.

  • That I am part of the great puzzle of life.

  • It means that I am a major confusion to people and stand no chance to ever fit in.

  • Multiple meanings…The condition itself is a puzzle which needs to be addressed on many fronts to completion; and that persons with this condition are puzzled by our “normal”; and we as parents, siblings, family, friends, teachers/therapists, and the general public are presented with the puzzle of how to understand & work with each autistic individual to empower them to be as independently functioning as possible.

  • To me, it simply means autism awareness, just like a pink ribbon on a shirt- breast cancer awareness; a yellow ribbon around a tree- “bring my soldier home”; a wooden cutout of a stork, on a front lawn, with a blue ribbon- “it’s a boy”; a rainbow sticker on the back window of a car- gay pride….everyone knows what the autism awareness symbol is, regardless of their knowledge of autism. They see it & they think about autism, & isn’t that the point. If we suddenly put a green ribbon on that stork, because someone decides that blue is offensive, it will be a VERY long time before everyone gets that memo, & even longer before it becomes instinctive. Could someone have come up with a better ribbon? Maybe, but I personally think that it’s a beautiful symbol, because the fact is, the autistic world is a puzzle to us, & ours is puzzling to them, & how beautiful it would be if with enough acceptance and understanding our puzzling worlds could come together and fit perfectly. I know in my life, that I see a few more pieces fall into place every day; not just for my child, but for myself as well. There are very often things that are “puzzling” to me, things that’s just can’t wrap my head around, that I suddenly “get”, and that piece just falls into place, & fits so perfectly, that it makes absolute sense. So much sense in fact, that it’s much more logical & simplified than “our” way. That’s just my view, I can see others as well.

  • It means nothing to me, but more importantly it means nothing to my son. Autism may have seemed a bit “puzzling” at the beginning but now the only puzzle pieces we are concerned about are the ones that disappear under the stove.

  • So really, the puzzle piece is nothing more than mirror into the person you are talking to. My hope is, however, that conversations about autism shift from how other people don’t understand us (mystery of autism), to how *both* autistic people and non-autistic misunderstand each other. And how we can develop mutual respect for our differences, for multiple ways of communicating, and an understanding that perspective does not equal wrong. Or right.

  • I don’t like the symbol of the puzzle or blue lights. They remind me of loneliness, sadness (blue), and isolation (missing piece). I know that’s not what it’s supposed to mean. They just don’t make me or my son feel hopeful, understood, special, belonging. Autism is just really hard.

  • That even though we’re all different, we all belong and are needed.

  • That I am not alone and that I am unique due to my Autism. I am proud to have Autism!