I think that the vast majority of us can agree:
The dastardly puzzle piece needs to go.
And it needs to go yesterday. In fact, it needed to go years ago.
I’m not sure if it should ever have been associated in the first place.
Because, after all, it wasn’t our choice. It was chosen for us. Chosen for us by people who aren’t among us.
It was chosen about us, without us.
That probably violates an unwritten commandment or something. Wait–it wasn’t unwritten; we’ve been writing it for a long time: Nothing About Us Without Us.
We are, often, after all, rule-abiders. Especially when the rule ignites our internal senses of justice.
Rules governing social situations? Stereotypical gender roles?
Meh. In my book (and in the books of many autistic people I’ve talked with), those were made to be broken.
But don’t mess with justice. That’s just not right.
Truthfully, the puzzle piece is probably more accurate than we might initially think, especially for many late/adult-diagnosed people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum. For us, it could have come to symbolize the long-awaited discovery of our truth, the final arrival of a legitimate explanation for why we are the way we are.
But that potential lies only in a parallel universe, one in which the neurotypical cause-heads (which is not to imply that all neurotypical people are cause-heads, only the ones who are actually cause-heads 😉 ) hadn’t gotten their hooks into that icon first.
Because they did, years before we knew we (should have) had a say in the matter, the infamous puzzle piece is forever sullied. Off limits. No way, no how. Not happening. And given the history behind the issue and the understandable emotions involved, I wouldn’t advocate any differently.
So if not a puzzle piece, then what?
Since I’m a new kid on the block, by the time I came into the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community, the use of the Rainbow Infinity symbol was already in full swing.
I like rainbows. I’m also intrigued by the concept of infinity.
Infinity, well, to state the obvious, goes on forever. Anything is possible. Everyone belongs. Everyone has a place, and it can be anywhere on the spectrum.
I’d like to think about taking this idea one step further. Maybe it won’t happen for a while, at least not full implementation, but I’d like to at least plant some seeds.
For those of us who are self-employed, maybe we could insert the Rainbow Infinity onto our website somewhere, to indicate that we’re Asperger’s/autism-friendly. If we wanted to take it yet one step further, we could use that symbol against a black background to indicate that it is the business owner ourselves who is on the spectrum.
Neurotypical business owners could use the symbol as well, to indicate that their business is Asperger’s/autism-friendly. NTs could use a different color background, such as white if we used black, or black if we used white, to differentiate between NT-owned businesses that are spectrum-friendly versus Actually-Autistic-owned businesses.
And we could all be listed somewhere in some kind of Asperger’s/autism-friendly business directory that categorizes businesses as either spectrum–owned and -friendly or NT-owned spectrum-friendly.
Just my thoughts. What are yours? 🙂