Changing my outdated, unwelcomed views on the autism puzzle piece.
Have you had to struggle to change an opinion/belief? I thought I’d share my thought process of what I just went through to change my point of view that was hard for me.
As most of you know, I have made autism awareness puzzle piece pendants for over 10 years. When I first read this article from Autistic Truth about the autism community not wanting to use the puzzle piece as their symbol I felt deep sadness. I would hope that anyone who knows me, knows that I have never thought the puzzle symbol represented the need to be “fixed” or have a “piece missing”. In fact, I’d never even heard of those definitions until reading this article. I’ve always looked at it as meaning “it’s puzzling”. I have fibromyalgia. It’s puzzling. I don’t find that offensive. It’s a puzzling condition and if the fibro community had decided to use the puzzle symbol to represent fibromyalgia and bring awareness to it, I would wear it proudly in the hopes to raise awareness. But that’s just it, isn’t it? The autistic community didn’t choose the puzzle symbol. People chose it for them. It doesn’t matter what I think, how I feel, if I agree, or if I don’t personally find it offensive. It just doesn’t matter. It is not up to me. Which led me to feeling angry. Am I supposed to just stop making puzzle pieces? What do I do with my hundreds of hours of unfinished inventory in different stages of puzzle shapes in my studio? Bin them? I love making these pieces! I love bringing awareness about autism! I love the feel and shape of the puzzle piece in my hand. What do you mean the puzzle symbol isn’t art? Each pendant I have created are one-of-a-kind, hand made, genuine pieces of art that have hours of work put into each one! That led to a feeling of loss. All my work felt meaningless. How do I contribute to bringing awareness now? I can’t afford to make infinity symbols out of gold! How do I let go of something I’ve loved and felt so proud of for so many years? However, my opinions, feelings and personal connection to the symbol DO NOT MATTER. I have to let it go.. That’s all. Acceptance. Do I need to throw out all my inventory? No. But I do have to respect the autism community’s decision and remove autism from my definitions and tags on my listings and stop selling my puzzle pieces as autism awareness. Also I felt strongly compelled to share with you all how the greater autism community feels and what their wishes are for a symbol, and hope you share it too. Please read the article from Autistic Truth.
When I told my two teenagers about this article, neither of them had an opinion either way on the symbol or felt invested as to what it should be. One of them shrugged and said “Oh well. I love my puzzle pendant and I’m still going to keep wearing it.”
That being said, any puzzle fans out there in the market for some puzzle pendants?
If you need me I’ll be in the editing pages of my store, website and social media pages for the next few days! (Here is the article from Autistic Truth https://www.facebook.com/AutisticTruth/posts/295037342188972)