It comes with the look halfway between perplexed and pitying. Because how could I not get it? And yet how could I, supposedly lacking Theory of Mind and understanding of symbolic language? It comes with an edge to the voice and the slightest roll of the eye. The puzzle piece, she explains, slowly, pointedly, as to an errant child, stands for the mystery of autism! Not autistic people, but how we still don’t know what causes it!
And because it stands for what causes me to be me, well, obviously I shouldn’t be offended. I try to explain that autism is not, cannot be, separate from the person, using the points Jim Sinclair outlined here. But then I look again. On her lapel is the most famous of all puzzle pieces. Of course I’ve seen it thousands of times, but I have to check, just in case I’ve been mistaken.
Nope, it’s still the same. A puzzle piece shape in bright blue with legs, arms, and a shrunken little head. I’m pretty sure this is a person. Am I the only one who sees it? And while the Autism Speaks logo might not be the original autism puzzle piece, it is certainly the most recognizable. It represents a person, and despite my history of pareidolia there is no way you are going to convince me otherwise.