A piece of the puzzle.
Let me just offer a quick insight, for those who claim to be allies to the autistic community but continue to use the puzzle piece - in tattoos, in logos, in any given situation to represent the autistic community, autistic friends, family members, loved ones.
First, have a quick read here:
(Links lifted from autisticfandomthings, with my undying gratitude for their unending willingness to inform and educate.)
When you post a photo of your new puzzle piece tattoo, you might run into one of us. Actual autistic people. And you might find yourself surprised to learn that we aren’t delighted. We aren’t excited to have found an ally, we aren’t happy that you chose to represent us in tattoo form.
If you read the links above - actually read them, instead of skimming them and dismissing them because “that wasn’t what you meant” - then you’ll understand why. Here is the bit you’re missing.
We aren’t saying you’re a bad person. We aren’t saying you’re actively trying to oppress the person or persons who mean so much to you, that you tried to get a supportive tattoo. We are saying that the puzzle piece represents continuing efforts to oppress, “cure,” and eradicate us.
Of course you’re horrified. Of course you’re not happy about this situation. But please consider the possibility that we might be trying to educate you in order to begin dismantling the systematic oppression of our community. If this autistic person (or persons) is/are so very important to you, that you indelibly marked your body for them… Are they not important enough for you to be horrified?
You should be angry, you see. Not with yourself - failing to do research isn’t great, but we know how prevalent the Autism Speaks type rhetoric is, especially in the US. Certainly not with us - we are literally attempting to stop you from supporting an ongoing movement that seeks to destroy who we are from the inside out.
But you should be angry.
Please think about where you’re going to direct that anger. Direct it at those who made a logo that is oppressive in its very nature. Direct it at those who punish us for being who we are. Direct it at people who see us as less than human for having a different neurological constitution. Direct it, perhaps, at the people who convinced you that the symbol you had tattooed on yourself was a supportive one, when really it’s anything but.
I am angry when I see your puzzle piece tattoo. I am. And sometimes that anger comes out directed at you. Why didn’t you read up about it? Why didn’t you care enough to read it through?
But that isn’t because you’re the culprit here. It’s because you’re taking who I am, turning it into something infantile and demeaning, and then feeling like a great person for doing so, because you’ve been told by the media and by an all-encompassing “charity,” that you are.
That isn’t your fault. It isn’t my fault.
Next time you get criticism for using the puzzle piece to embody the autistic community, ask yourself this:
Whose fault is it? And why aren’t you angry with them?