Autism Symbols

Getting prepared for the Autism Speaks Walk is something that is helping to keep my sanity. Our team is called “Veiga Racing for Autism” and the name was picked mostly by my husband. Racing is his passion and he promised me to help raise awareness about autism through his racing, which we thought was a good fit.

After deciding on the name we had to start thinking about a logo, and that’s when I started to research about autism symbols. We have an idea about what we want to use, but we need to have something that will make it easy for people to know what we are supporting. I also need to figure out a logo for this blog, so the research seemed appropriated.

What I found was quite interesting and also made me think about the meaning of the symbols used to promote the cause. The most known symbol for autism is the puzzle piece and here is what I found out about it.

The origin of the puzzle piece, the primary symbol for autism, goes back to 1963. It was created by Gerald Gasson, a parent and board member for the National Autistic Society in London. The board believed autistic people suffered from a ‘puzzling’ condition. They adopted the logo because it didn’t look like any other image used for charitable or commercial use. Included with the puzzle piece was an image of a weeping child. The weeping child was used as a reminder that Autistic people suffer from their condition.


It has been a long time since The National Autistic Society had a different vision on autism and changed their logo to a more positive one. The new one is a heavily stylized symbol of two figures reaching out to each other.


The puzzle ribbon was adopted in 1999 as the universal sign of autism awareness. Although this image is a trademark of the Autism Society, the organization has granted use to other non-profit organizations in order to demonstrate unity and advance a universal mission as opposed to any individually held interests or promotion of a single organization.


The Autism Awareness Ribbon — The puzzle pattern reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and access to appropriate services/supports, people with autism will lead full lives able to interact with the world on their own terms.

I found out a lot of people dislike the puzzle piece symbol or the Autism Speaks slogan “Until all the pieces fit”. They believe the meaning behind it is negative. Like a symbol of isolation, or that the person is too mysterious to be understood, or even that they are not a whole person, that they are broken.

To me the puzzle piece symbolizes autism, the disorder, not my son. It symbolizes the mystery of his condition and not him. We are all still trying to figure out so much about ASD and that is the puzzle I am trying to complete. “Until all the pieces fit” means that I will fight and look for answers until I stop breathing or until the ASD puzzle is complete! It doesn’t mean I want to fix him, after all he is not broken like some people think!

I really liked what one parent said the puzzle piece meant for him. He said that his son was the piece missing in his life in order for him to be complete. My son for sure came to complete my life!!!

Whether the puzzle piece is seen as a symbol of diversity and hope or a motif representing isolation, the design has a major place in the world of ASD. It is by far the most recognized symbol for autism awareness. I did find a couple of other signs and the meaning for each are really interesting.

The rainbow-colored infinity symbol represents the diversity of the autism spectrum as well as the greater neurodiversity movement.


The butterfly symbol represents something that is already unique and then it transforms into something even more beautiful. This has parallels with people living with autism, where we cannot judge what someone would be like in the future as transformations happen throughout their lives as they mature. As they blossom from their cocoon, their true colors of what they are surface and show their true beauty.

442230_orig                   AUTISM-Butterfly_S_original

There is a whole bunch of other figures that combined with the puzzle pieces somehow symbolize ASD and bring awareness to the cause.

Now I would like to know which symbols do you know and what do they mean to you?



Autism Society:

The Art of Autism:

The many faces of autism:

Autism Society Manitoba:

KGB Answers: