Autism has no real symbol.
- The puzzle piece has negative connotations and is used by anti-autism groups.
- The neurodiversity symbol is sometimes used, although its message extends beyond autism.
I’ve had this idea for years, but I’ve been hesitant to share since I doubt it’ll catch on. (I’m not exactly famous or popular enough for a little check mark next to my name.) But maybe it’s time for me to be brave and put it out there.
The symbol I’m proposing is meant to evoke inclusivity, optimism, and community. We need a symbol filled with love and hope. Here’s my take.
This has been edited based on feedback & discussion within the community. Thank you for helping me make it the best it can be.
The Tricolor A
My idea is for a letter A symbol. Why?
- A stands for autism (and can stand for other words like amazing)
- In another language, you may want to use the A or color the first letter in that language
- It’s relatively easy to draw, making it more reproducible by kids and those with limited motor skills
The colors are basic.
- You can use whatever is on hand (crayons, markers, whatever) to draw the symbol. No fancy tools needed
- You don’t need to match the exact original colors
The colors have unique meanings
Component 1: Community meanings
- Red/pink is for #REDinstead. It also signifies love, both in our hearts and from the people who care about us.
- It’s on top because of all the love there is to give and share when we are given the chance.
- Yellow/gold is for #LightItUpGold. It also highlights the achievements of autistic people, and the intrinsic worth of every human being (regardless of needs & abilities)
- Blue symbolizes the hardship and suffering the Autistic community has endured. It’s reminiscent of ableism, sadness, and tears. I chose a bright blue to signify that with hard work, our community can build a brighter future together.
- It is the smallest part, because while our suffering is real and difficult, I believe that our abilities and potential can ultimately outweigh the tragedies. And working together, we can make the bad stuff smaller.
Component 2: Genders
- Red/pink for women and girls
- Yellow/gold for nonbinary people
- Blue for men and boys
Autistic females and nonbinary people have long been under-represented. The tricolor A is meant to show that all genders are important parts of our community.
(It is a little silly to ascribe colors to gender, but I also felt that explicitly including all genders would be meaningful.)
I’d like to add that the 2 types of symbolism aren’t meant to correspond to each other. (Boys don’t mean sadness, girls don’t mean love, et cetera.)
Component 3: Colors together
- When you mix the primary colors (red/yellow/blue), you get a rainbow. Rainbows symbolize diversity and neurodiversity
- I used bright, bold colors to show optimism for our future
Color precision is optional.
- If you want to match exactly, the red/pink color is #E5264F, the yellow is #F5CC53, and the blue is #2890CB. But that’s optional.
- Feel free to change the colors up to match your blog theme or personal favorites or whatever. Pastel version, dark version… whatever makes you happy.
- Short on colors? Use whatever you’ve got. Also, orange is a decent substitute for yellow if your yellow doesn’t show up well on paper.
How to use it
You’re free to use the tricolor A if you like it. It’s not copyrighted. It’s a simple symbol you can draw in 3 strokes. Download this version, draw your own, have fun with it, whatever!
You can use it as part of a word if you’d like.
Please use it with kindness and respect always. It’s what I believe in and I hope it’s what you believe in too.
(You can read more about me if you’re curious on my positions on LGBTQIANP+ people, people of color, and other groups. Spoiler alert: I’m big on kindness and respect towards them.)
I think it would be fun if it caught on. We definitely need a symbol for autism. Ideally, it will be something accessible for everyone.