Symbols are a bit of a sticky wicket in the autistic world. So let’s look at what a symbol should be in this modern age.
First, a symbol should be something you consider to have meaning. It should be something that you can explain to someone else why it is what it is. It should tell a story. It should tell your story. In this right, everyone has within them to chose what symbol represents them the best.
Second, a symbol should be considered from a marketing standpoint. Sure, you know what it means. But does your audience know what it means? Will they be familiar with the symbol? Can they eventually be familiar with the symbol? Is there competition in the same space with different symbols? Is your meaning bolstered or watered down?
The one symbol in the autistic world that everybody likes to decry it seems, is the puzzle piece of Autism Speaks. Anyone’s feelings aside about the organization, that is their symbol. They were the only game in town for awhile, so their symbol has become ubiquitous with autism much in the same way every tissue is referred to as Kleenix, all gelatin is referred to as Jello, and searching the Internet is known as Googling.
But, in a social movement where not everyone will claim to be represented by a sole organization, that organization’s symbol should be shelved in favor of something else.
With a ubiquitous symbol out there already, there needs to be a unified action behind a symbol that represents the movement, and not one of an organization. I’ve seen other people take a stab at choosing a symbol. I’ve also seen people take a stab at designing their own. As I said before, everyone is in their right to do so. However, they must know that doing so will hamper the efforts of their message.
Given both the personal story AND the public facing familiarity aspects, I choose to get behind the neurodiversity movement’s use of the infinity loop.
“Infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.”
That’s a marketing statement right there. That’s one you can take to the bank. That’s one that people have a chance of remembering.
That also, to me, explains autism. I’ve been pigeon-holed all my life, even before anyone knew I was autistic. This still doesn’t change that, within just myself, there are infinite possibilities in infinite combinations. I can and do accomplish so much more than what spot others put me in.
My kid has a lot of the traits I do, but he also has a few different ones. He is another point in the field of infinite possibilities in infinite combinations.
It is my story. It is my kid’s story. It can quickly and succinctly portray our story to others.
Also published on Medium.