What is the Symbol for Autism?

The puzzle piece is meant to represent the complexity and mystery of the disorder, as well as the idea that people with autism are unique individuals who do not fit into a neat, pre-defined box.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
February 8, 2024
min read

Understanding the Autism Symbol

Symbols play a significant role in society, serving as a visual representation of ideas, concepts, and communities. The autism symbol, in particular, holds great importance in raising awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this section, we will explore the significance of symbols in society and provide an introduction to the autism symbol.

The Importance of Symbols in Society

Symbols have the power to transcend language barriers and communicate complex ideas in a concise and universally recognizable manner. They serve as a visual shorthand, allowing individuals to quickly identify and understand the meaning behind a symbol. Moreover, symbols can foster a sense of unity and belonging within a community, providing individuals with a shared identity and a platform for advocacy.

Symbols have been used throughout history to represent various causes, social movements, and organizations. They serve as a rallying point, drawing attention to important issues and promoting dialogue and understanding. By adopting a symbol, a community can create a visual representation of their values, aspirations, and challenges.

Free Close Up Photo of People Holding Puzzle Pieces Stock Photo

Introduction to the Autism Symbol

The autism symbol is an iconic representation of the autism community and the unique experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum. The symbol most commonly associated with autism is the puzzle piece. This symbol has become widely recognized and is often used to raise awareness, promote acceptance, and support individuals with autism and their families.

The puzzle piece symbolizes the complexity and diversity of autism. It represents the idea that every individual with autism is unique and has their own strengths and challenges. The puzzle piece also signifies the ongoing search for answers and understanding, reflecting the need for continued research and support for individuals on the spectrum.

It's important to note that the autism symbol has evolved over time, and alternative symbols have emerged as well. These symbols, such as the infinity symbol and the rainbow symbol, offer different interpretations and perspectives on autism. The choice of symbol can vary among individuals and organizations, reflecting personal connections and beliefs.

Understanding the meaning behind the autism symbol is essential in fostering awareness, acceptance, and support for individuals on the autism spectrum. By embracing the symbol, individuals and communities can contribute to a more inclusive and understanding society.

The Puzzle Piece Symbol

The puzzle piece symbol has become widely recognized as a representation of autism. It has been embraced by many individuals and organizations as a way to raise awareness and promote understanding of autism spectrum disorder. In this section, we will explore the origins of the puzzle piece symbol, its interpretations and meanings, as well as the controversies surrounding it.

Origins of the Puzzle Piece

The puzzle piece symbol was first introduced in 1963 by the National Autistic Society (NAS), a leading autism charity based in the United Kingdom. The idea behind the puzzle piece was to convey the complexity and mystery of autism. It symbolized the notion that autism is like a puzzle waiting to be solved, with each piece representing the different aspects of the condition.

Interpretations and Meanings

Over the years, the puzzle piece symbol has taken on various interpretations and meanings. For some, it represents the diversity and uniqueness of individuals on the autism spectrum. Just as a puzzle piece is distinct and fits together with others to create a whole, individuals with autism are seen as an integral part of society.

The puzzle piece can also symbolize the idea that autism is a complex condition, with many different characteristics and challenges. Each piece of the puzzle represents a different aspect of autism, such as communication difficulties, sensory sensitivities, or repetitive behaviors. Together, these pieces form a complete picture of autism.

Controversies Surrounding the Puzzle Piece

While the puzzle piece symbol has gained widespread recognition, it has also faced criticism and controversies. Some argue that the puzzle piece implies that individuals with autism are incomplete or broken, perpetuating a negative stereotype. They believe that autism should be seen as a natural variation of human neurodiversity, rather than a puzzle to be solved or fixed.

Another concern raised is the association of the puzzle piece symbol with organizations that focus on finding a cure for autism. This perspective is criticized by those who advocate for acceptance and understanding of autism as it is, rather than seeking to change or eliminate it.

It's important to note that not all individuals and organizations within the autism community endorse or use the puzzle piece symbol. There is a diversity of opinions and preferences regarding symbols for autism, with some advocating for alternative symbols that emphasize acceptance, such as the infinity symbol or the rainbow symbol.

Understanding the origins, interpretations, and controversies surrounding the puzzle piece symbol allows for a more nuanced perspective on its use as a representation of autism. Ultimately, the choice of symbol is a personal one, and what matters most is promoting awareness, acceptance, and support for individuals on the autism spectrum.

The Infinity Symbol

The symbol for autism is not limited to the puzzle piece; another symbol that has emerged in recent years is the infinity symbol. In this section, we will explore the emergence, interpretations, and alternative perspectives on the infinity symbol as it relates to autism.

Emergence of the Infinity Symbol

While the puzzle piece has been widely recognized as the symbol for autism for many years, the infinity symbol has gained popularity in more recent times. The exact origin of the infinity symbol in relation to autism is not clear, but it is believed to have gained traction as a way to represent the endless possibilities and potential of individuals on the autism spectrum.

The infinity symbol, often depicted as a sideways figure-eight, evokes the concept of limitless connections and continuity. It symbolizes the idea that individuals with autism have unique strengths and abilities that can contribute to society in meaningful ways.

Interpretations and Meanings

The infinity symbol has various interpretations and meanings within the autism community. Some interpret it as a representation of the infinite love and support that individuals with autism need and deserve. It emphasizes the importance of acceptance, understanding, and embracing neurodiversity.

Additionally, the infinity symbol can be seen as a reminder that autism is a lifelong journey. It signifies the continuous growth, learning, and development that individuals on the autism spectrum experience throughout their lives. It highlights the need for ongoing support and resources to help individuals reach their full potential.

Alternative Perspectives on the Infinity Symbol

While the infinity symbol has gained popularity as an alternative symbol for autism, it is important to note that not everyone in the autism community resonates with it. Some individuals and advocacy groups prefer the puzzle piece symbol or have their own unique symbols to represent autism.

It is crucial to respect and acknowledge the diversity of opinions within the autism community when it comes to symbols. Each person's perspective and connection to a symbol can vary, and it is essential to honor and support their choices.

Ultimately, whether one resonates with the puzzle piece or the infinity symbol, what truly matters is promoting acceptance, understanding, and inclusivity for individuals on the autism spectrum. The symbols serve as a visual representation of these values and can help raise awareness and foster a sense of unity among individuals and communities supporting autism.

Other Symbols Associated with Autism

In addition to the puzzle piece and infinity symbols, there are other symbols that have become associated with autism. These symbols are used to raise awareness and promote understanding of autism within society. Two notable symbols are the rainbow symbol and the Light It Up Blue symbol.

The Rainbow Symbol

The rainbow symbol has gained recognition as a symbol of diversity and acceptance, including within the autism community. The vibrant colors of the rainbow represent the diverse spectrum of individuals on the autism spectrum.

The rainbow symbolizes the uniqueness and individuality of each person with autism, highlighting the importance of embracing neurodiversity. It promotes the idea that every individual has valuable contributions to make and should be accepted for who they are.

The Light It Up Blue Symbol

The Light It Up Blue symbol is an initiative by Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization. It involves lighting up buildings and landmarks in blue during the month of April, which is Autism Awareness Month. The color blue is used to symbolize solidarity and support for individuals with autism and their families.

Light It Up Blue aims to raise awareness about autism and promote understanding and acceptance. By illuminating prominent structures in blue, the campaign seeks to start conversations and encourage communities to learn more about autism.

It's important to note that the symbols associated with autism, including the rainbow symbol and Light It Up Blue symbol, are not universally embraced by the entire autism community. Some individuals and organizations may prefer one symbol over another, or choose to use multiple symbols to represent autism.

By exploring and understanding the various symbols associated with autism, individuals and communities can engage in meaningful conversations and promote acceptance and support for individuals on the autism spectrum. Ultimately, the choice of symbol is a personal one, and what matters most is the message of inclusivity, understanding, and respect it conveys.

Choosing a Symbol

When it comes to choosing a symbol to represent autism, individuals and communities have different preferences based on personal interpretations and connections. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting an autism symbol.

Personal Interpretation and Connection

The choice of an autism symbol is often deeply personal, and individuals may be drawn to a symbol that resonates with their own experiences or perspectives. Some people may find a particular symbol more meaningful or relatable based on their personal connection to autism. It's essential to consider the emotional significance and representation that a symbol holds for oneself or loved ones affected by autism.

Embracing Multiple Symbols

While the puzzle piece and infinity symbols are commonly associated with autism, there is no one-size-fits-all symbol for the autism community. Many individuals and organizations choose to embrace multiple symbols to convey different aspects of autism and promote inclusivity. By using a combination of symbols, they aim to represent the diverse experiences and perspectives within the autism community.

Symbol Meaning
Puzzle Piece Often represents the complex nature of autism and the need for understanding and acceptance.
Infinity Symbol Represents the infinite potential and unique abilities individuals with autism possess.
Rainbow Symbol Symbolizes diversity and acceptance, reflecting the spectrum of abilities and experiences within the autism community.
Light It Up Blue Symbol A symbol used to raise awareness and promote understanding of autism.

Spreading Awareness and Acceptance

Regardless of the symbol chosen, the ultimate goal is to spread awareness and acceptance of autism. Symbols serve as a visual representation and conversation starter, sparking discussions about autism and promoting understanding.

By embracing a symbol and incorporating it into advocacy efforts, individuals and organizations can contribute to a more inclusive society for people on the autism spectrum.

It's important to remember that symbols alone do not define the autism community. They are tools to initiate dialogue, challenge misconceptions, and foster acceptance. By understanding the personal interpretations and embracing multiple symbols, we can work together to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with autism and their families.


What is the meaning behind the colors of the puzzle piece symbol?

The color blue is often associated with autism awareness, and it is used in many logos and marketing materials that feature the puzzle piece. The color blue was chosen to represent hope and support for people with autism, as well as their families and caregivers.

Is there an alternative symbol for autism that people use?

Yes, some people prefer to use a rainbow-colored infinity symbol as a symbol for autism. This symbol emphasizes the idea of neurodiversity, or the belief that neurological differences should be celebrated rather than stigmatized.

Can I still use the puzzle piece as a symbol for autism if I have concerns about its associations with harmful organizations?

Yes, you can still choose to use the puzzle piece if you feel that it represents your personal experience with autism. However, it is important to be aware of these criticisms and to educate yourself on which organizations are truly dedicated to supporting people with autism in positive ways.


In conclusion, the symbol for autism is a puzzle piece. While it has a long history as a symbol for autism and is widely recognized, it has also been criticized for its negative connotations and associations with harmful organizations.

As with any symbol, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not to use it to raise awareness of autism. Ultimately, what is most important is that we continue to work towards understanding and acceptance of people with autism, and support them in living happy, fulfilling lives.


steven zauderer

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

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