The puzzling agendas of autism societies

How do you feel about her handing these out? She was asking my supervisor. I had already left. The event was called A Celebration of Disability. Only one booth had a puzzle piece displayed. Of course it was the local autism society. I had taken with me a fresh supply of these cards and left a few at the table.

She explained to him that the puzzle piece is about not understanding autism. There was some discussion of my being “high functioning” or some such thing. So this morning, there was the conversation with the supervisor. We have to listen to all sides of the issue. That sort of thing. Everyone has a right to his or her views and opinions.

I don’t disagree. Everyone does have a right. But there is a problem. There are many, many more non-autistic people than autistic people. If everyone’s voice counts equally, we will always lose. I don’t expect the autism societies will give up their puzzle pieces any time soon. It’s an issue of branding. Everyone knows the puzzle piece “means” autism. That familiarity is more important to the autism societies than the consequences to autistic people of being objectified and silenced. 

I would like to see  increased recognition that autistics are a minority group. Whether or not you believe that autistic people are the true experts on autism, shouldn’t we be heard when we say that a particular representation of autism is offensive? Not everyone thinks so. We all have our own opinions.

5 thoughts on “The puzzling agendas of autism societies

  1. thejypsy says:

    In 2002 I pointed out to my local Autism Society that the pins they bought and were going to sell as a fundraiser or give away “for awareness” were offensive to a number of autistics. I also asked them if they cared about this fact.
    I was told “I was not aware that some people do not like the symbol. However we have purchased them from the parent Society so I guess that what we are going with.”
    Sadly, in the years since, they have fully embraced the puzzle symbol (to a ridiculous degree!) in spite of my continued objections –
    Proof they don’t care.

    • bev says:

      They are still pleading ignorance. Nobody told us! That’s one of the reasons for this site, to keep a record of the many times we have. Thanks for visiting and commenting here! If you have a record of your correspondence with the autism society or anything you’ve written, I’d love to post it. Squawk…

  2. kabie says:

    I can’t see who wrote the above – who is the author?
    It really struck a chord with me as I have heard so many times ‘everyone must have their say’ as a way to silence me / other Autistics. I will be at another meeting this week where I expect it to happen again, the above puts the case that we will always be a minority in a way that helps me to now voice this in a more easy to understand way: thank you. It has made me think of things in a new & helpful way & given me the language to challenge more confidently where I struggled to explain.

    • bev says:

      Thanks very much for your kind words. I’m happy this was helpful. Unless otherwise attributed, all writing on this site is by Bev.

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