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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Puzzle Piece in Idaho

In The Politics of Autism, I write that everything about autism is controversial
Autism is “political” in a broader sense. Political conflict involves ideas and arguments for which the information is often murky, incomplete, interpretive, and open to manipulation. Just about everything concerning autism is subject to dispute. What is it? What causes it? How many different kinds of it are there? Who has it? What can we do about it? Is it even the right problem to be thinking about?
Even the graphic art is cause for argument.

Haadiya Tariq at The Idaho Press:
Following criticism for its autism awareness police cruiser, the Caldwell Police Department pulled its car from last Saturday’s Treasure Valley Night Light Parade and is reevaluating its design.

The police department originally planned to lead the parade through downtown Caldwell with a specially wrapped car to raise awareness for autism. Plans changed after negative reception from users online.

While the car’s design wasn’t formally launched, the police cruiser had been on the streets, with some residents spotting the car adorned with a controversial symbol.

“Please tell me it doesn’t use the puzzle pieces,” Jessica Peregoy Vachon commented on Facebook, referring to a puzzle piece symbolizing autism.

Other users confirmed that, after seeing the car around town, it did.

The autism puzzle piece symbol has come under scrutiny in the past few years, Autism Society of Idaho Executive Director Tiffany Klauba explained.

Klauba attributed the negative reputation of the puzzle piece symbol to a poorly done national campaign from several years ago. In the campaign, the puzzle piece was shown as the “missing piece” that autistic people didn’t have.

“They didn’t intend on offending people, but they did, saying that basically, the puzzle piece represents autism because there’s a missing piece,” Klauba said. “That, in order to find a cure for autism, you have to find a piece to make that person whole. However, that was never the intention for the puzzle piece.”