What Colors Represent Autism: Meaning Behind Autism Colors

Explore the symbolism of what colors represent autism, from blue to gold, and their deep meanings.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
June 29, 2024
7 min read
min read

Understanding Autism Symbols

When exploring the question of what colors represent autism, it's important to first understand the symbols associated with this condition. Two of the most widely recognized symbols for autism are the puzzle piece and the infinity symbol.

The Puzzle Piece

The puzzle piece is often used to signify autism, reflecting the mystery and complexity of the condition. It was first introduced by the National Autistic Society in 1963, symbolizing the complexity and enigma of autism. The different colors seen in puzzle piece logos represent the diversity of individuals and families affected by autism.

This symbol has become the most recognizable emblem associated with autism, but its interpretation varies among individuals. While the puzzle piece can symbolize how puzzling autism traits might be, some individuals reject being viewed as a puzzle to be solved. Instead, they aim to be recognized as a whole person rather than a problem to be fixed.

In essence, the puzzle piece signifies the need for understanding and acceptance of individuals on the autism spectrum.

The Infinity Symbol

In addition to the puzzle piece, the infinity symbol is another icon adopted to represent autism. This symbol signifies lifelong support, love, and acceptance for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

The infinity symbol's continuous loop serves as a reminder that support and understanding for individuals with autism must be continual and everlasting. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives and experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum.

In conclusion, both the puzzle piece and the infinity symbol serve as important symbols in the autism community, each carrying their own significant meanings and interpretations. As we explore the colors associated with autism, these symbols provide an essential backdrop for understanding the broader context of autism awareness and acceptance.

Colors in Autism Awareness

In the world of autism awareness, different colors play pivotal roles in symbolizing various aspects of autism. Understanding what colors represent autism can provide a deeper insight into the values and messages that these colors convey.

The Significance of Blue

The color blue holds significant meaning in autism awareness. It is the most well-known hue associated with autism, symbolizing understanding, support, and a sense of calm. Blue, signifying calmness and serenity, was chosen by the National Autism Association as the primary color to represent autism.

Furthermore, blue is often recognized as representing autism awareness and acceptance, a tradition that started in 2007 with the "Light It Up Blue" campaign by Autism Speaks. This campaign used the color blue to highlight the importance of understanding and accepting people with autism. Every year, numerous landmarks, buildings, and homes around the world are lit up in blue to show their support for the campaign.

The Role of Red

Alongside blue, red is another color associated with autism. This vibrant hue symbolizes energy, strength, and determination. Red serves to embody the tenacity and resilience often seen in individuals with autism, as they navigate through their unique challenges on a daily basis.

Though not as widely recognized as blue, red is sometimes used alongside blue to represent autism awareness. The combination of these colors serves to create a dynamic visual representation of the autism spectrum, underlining the fact that every individual with autism is unique.

The engagement of these colors, blue and red, in autism awareness underscores the importance of symbolism in promoting understanding and acceptance of autism. They serve as visual reminders of the ongoing efforts to advocate for the rights and well-being of individuals with autism, and the continuous push towards greater inclusivity and recognition.

Other Colors Associated with Autism

In the discussion about what colors represent autism, apart from the commonly recognized blue and red, there are other colors that also hold significance within the autism community. These colors, white and gold, symbolize unique aspects of the autism spectrum and contribute to the overall representation of autism awareness and acceptance.

The Symbolism of White

White is a third color often tied to autism, standing for acceptance and inclusion within the autism community. It serves to remind people to embrace neurodiversity, fostering an environment of understanding and acceptance.

This color is associated with autism, representing awareness, purity, and unity. It is often used in combination with other colors like blue and red to convey messages of understanding, acceptance, and solidarity within the autism community [4].

The use of white in autism-related symbols and campaigns underscores the importance of a unified, accepting, and inclusive approach towards autism.

The Use of Gold

Gold is another color associated with autism. It is often used to represent the worth and value of individuals with autism, signifying preciousness, strength, and resilience. This color highlights the unique qualities and contributions of individuals on the autism spectrum [4].

Moreover, gold symbolizes courage, inspiration, and victory. It is often included in the color palette for autism awareness campaigns and events as a sign of hope for the future and the resilience of individuals with autism.

The use of gold in autism-related symbols and campaigns emphasizes the invaluable worth of individuals with autism and their potential to triumph over challenges.

In conclusion, the colors associated with autism - whether it's blue, red, white, or gold - each hold a unique significance and collectively represent the diverse aspects of the autism spectrum. They serve as a visual language, communicating the values of awareness, acceptance, unity, and hope that are central to the autism community.

Autism and Personal Color Preferences

While understanding what colors represent autism on a symbolic level is important, it's equally significant to appreciate the personal color preferences and sensitivities of individuals with autism. Color preference and sensitivity in people with autism can vary greatly compared to typically developing (TD) individuals, largely due to differences in sensory processing.

Color Sensitivity in Autism

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit enhanced sensory processing, which includes hyper-sensitivity to tactile, auditory, and visual input. This hyper-sensation can also extend to color perception, leading to their unique color preferences.

Hyper-sensation and hyper-attention in ASD have been neurologically linked to underlying neural underconnectivity among cortical areas. This condition potentially disrupts the coordination and integration of brain regions involved in color processing [6].

Typical Color Preferences

In a study comparing color preference in children with ASD and TD children, it was found that boys with ASD were significantly less likely to prefer yellow and more likely to prefer green and brown colors compared to TD boys.

The aversion to yellow in children with ASD may be due to their hyper-sensitivity to luminance, as yellow has the highest luminance value among the colors tested and is the most sensory-loaded to perceive.

Furthermore, the avoidance of brown color was observed only in children with ASD under 11 years, suggesting that hyper-sensitivity may decrease with age in individuals with ASD.

Preferred Color TD Boys Boys with ASD
Yellow High Low
Green Low High
Brown Low High

It's crucial to remember that these findings indicate tendencies rather than established facts for all individuals with ASD. As with any group of individuals, there's a considerable amount of personal variation. Understanding these tendencies can help in creating more comfortable environments for individuals with ASD, whether it's in terms of clothing, room color schemes, or the hues used in educational materials.

Campaigns and Initiatives

There are numerous campaigns and initiatives that leverage colors to promote autism awareness and acceptance. These campaigns often stem from organizations with the aim of educating the public about the autism spectrum and fostering a more inclusive society. Two notable initiatives are the 'Light It Up Blue' campaign and the 'Red Instead' initiative.

The Light It Up Blue Campaign

The Light It Up Blue campaign was launched in 2010 by the Autism Speaks organization. This campaign chose the color blue, a color often associated with boys, to symbolize autism. This choice was made despite the fact that autism affects both boys and girls. The campaign involves people wearing blue on April 2nd each year, which is Autism Awareness Day. Its primary goal is to raise awareness about autism.

Blue, a color often linked to traits like calmness, stability, and serenity, reflects the hope for a better understanding of autism and the need for acceptance and support [4].

However, while the Light It Up Blue campaign has been successful in raising awareness about autism, some advocate for acceptance of autism as part of the human genome rather than just raising awareness around it [3].

The Red Instead Initiative

An alternative initiative called "Red Instead" was created by autistic adults to promote autism acceptance over awareness. This initiative emphasizes the representation of actually autistic people and supports communication beyond spoken words. The color red in this initiative symbolizes the shift from mere awareness to acceptance, advocating for an inclusive society that recognizes and respects all individuals on the autism spectrum, regardless of their verbal abilities [3].

The Red Instead initiative was born out of the desire to move beyond awareness and towards acceptance, with the color red symbolizing this shift. This initiative underscores the importance of recognizing the individuality and diversity of those on the autism spectrum.

Both the Light It Up Blue campaign and the Red Instead initiative have contributed to the conversation about autism, raising awareness and promoting acceptance. They highlight the diverse experiences of individuals with autism and encourage society to embrace and support this diversity. These initiatives, represented by the colors blue and red, play an important role in understanding what colors represent autism.








steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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