If you see me around this year, you'll notice that I now have water bottles with stickers. It is a way for me to express myself and make drinking water more interesting. One sticker I am very happy to have is the rainbow infinity symbol. If you teach at my school, you'll also notice that I have a lanyard with the same symbol. I have this symbol to represent neurodiversity and, in particular, as an ally for those autistic individuals I teach, know, and encounter. If you are thinking, "but doesn't the puzzle piece already represent that?" You wouldn't be alone. However, the more that #actuallyautistic voices are raised, lifted, and heard, the more obvious it becomes that this symbol is not the one to use. Doodle Beth's work, shared above, is a great point of view on this topic and I've shared some more links below that go into much more detail than I will here, but here are some points that we allistic individuals (especially teachers) need to be aware of.
So, long story short, it isn't clear cut. From conversations I've seen and things I've read, the puzzle piece is, at best, outdated. It is also not my symbol, as an allistic, to use. So, I will not use it. I did, however, reach out to a community I am part of and friends I know who are #actuallyautistic and asked how I can show that I am an ally. The rainbow infinity symbol was proposed. When it comes to words, symbols, etc. that are used to identify or discuss communities and individuals, those of us who are not part of it have no say in how those things are used. It is up to each individual and the community to make those decisions. So, I defer to and listen to their voices. I am still learning. If you use the puzzle piece and you are not #actuallyautistic, it is time to look deeper, listen, and learn.
Further Reading and Resources
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This particular blog is dedicated to social justice workings in my professional and personal life.