desk graffiti

My design for an autism icon

I’ve been thinking about what would make a good symbol for autism, and this is what I came up with.

I wanted a symbol as iconic as a crucifix or the Star of David, and just as easy to draw. This is a symbol you can carve into your school desk, or graffiti over an ablest poster. Zorro would have a field day with this one.

So I’ve combined an equals sign with a capital A. The A stands for autism and the equals sign stands for equality. Not just equality between neurotypicals and autistics, but between all the different kinds of autistics. We’ve also got five intersections in this image, so you can read something into that.

There might be a Chinese letter that looks like this, but I’m not really sure.

Boys Will Be Boys

A grade 9 student beckons me to her desk. 

Her:  “Sir, someone wrote something inappropriate on my desk.”

I look at the bottom corner of her desk.  She’s right: someone crudely sketched a highly inappropriate cartoon of the male anatomy in black pen.

Me:  “Good catch.  I’ll erase it after class.”

Her:  “Do you want me to get rid of it?”

Me:  “I think it’s going to need some kind of solvent.  I’ll get it from the custodian.”

Her:  “I can do it.”

She licks her thumb and starts rubbing the desk graffiti.  The boys around her start giggling.

Me:  “You know what?  I’ll take care of it after.  Don’t bother but thank you for trying.”

Her:  “I’m almost done!”

The boys are cracking up.

Me:  “I’ll take it from here.  Thank you.” 

She’s staring down all the boys laughing.

Her:  “What’s their problem?”

Me:  “They’re boys.  That’s their problem.”


I want to meet the people who drew graffiti on the desks.

Whose default action in a state of idle boredom was to create something artistic. Who saw a bunch of things that were all the same and remedied that, leaving a little piece of themselves behind for the next generations, who would never know their name and barely glance twice at the artwork because it’s not in a conventional place. They left a small mark on the world, knowing that the result would be punishment and, ultimately, apathy.