Out in the woods where my mom and stepdad bought a vacation home in Colorado may not seem like a happening place for June 18’s Autistic Pride Day created by the former autistic rights organization Aspies for Freedom (which has since disbanded and reformed into the ASDCommunity and the Autism Friends Network, abandoning the term “Aspie”-referring to Asperger syndrome-in an attempt to be more inclusive), but when you are in a wooden house with no entertainment within walking distance you find a way to make it work. I have walked along abandoned train tracks finding many large smooth stones perfect for drawing the symbols my autistic kin have created, in response to the autism puzzle piece, which we have felt is no more empowering than labeling us as child schizophrenics or children of refrigerator mothers. In the first picture is the symbols created by others, and the second one, some of my own. The third and fourth are my new Facebook profile pictures and cover photos respectively.
First I might mention this is only the second time I celebrated it in my life, and have made a resolution each year to come up with a prompt from other autistic’s to write a post based on. Last year’s was from the page Thoughts from a Female Aspie, which had a post saying, “So this cure of yours that’s in the works, Exactly which parts of me would it remove? My Memory? My Gift? My Quirks? My Personality? My Thought Process? My Lifestyle? I don’t want to be cured of Aspergers at that price.” This year however, I got behind in finding a prompt, went with what I had already and choose “I’m not a puzzle. I’m a person.” Like the oldest one in the book.There are two rainbow infinities, the symbol of the former Aspies for Freedom, and one against a winged heart, created by autism’s very own Kelly Green. The blue and white infinity was created by Janet Sebilius and used by the Metis in Canada. The heart itself was just a generic symbol first generated around the time Autism Acceptance Month was created in response to the alarmist Autism Awareness Month. There are pink and purple people embracing each other, used by Britain’s the National Autistic Society, as well as an orange and green coil and jump, from Autscape UK. There is a pie chart, created by autistic Andrew I. Lerner, interestingly enough making a peace sign (as if to say the pieces fit in peace), then a butterfly with a transparent left wing, created by the autism organization, the Hidden Wings Foundation. Also an orange spark from the Celebrate Autism Foundation, a blue ribbon with rainbow stars created by autistic CarolAnn Acorn. The one that looks like a mismatch of rainbow colors, the rainbow scribbles, was created by James McCue to represent “beautiful chaos.” There is also a white tree with rainbow colors reflected in the water, like my profile picture with me meditating under it like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, which was created by Stephanie Tihanyi. The snowflake was created by JoeyMama, representing how all autistics are unique, and the rainbow moebius ring was created by Oddizms. There is also a horse symbol, which I have no idea who created or what it has to do with autism, but just know some autistics have benefited from equestrian interaction and think this symbol was probably just a joke among us.
I know, there are so many symbols, partly as I think each represents the uniqueness of different autistic communities, and as there are so many ways we have responded to the puzzle piece, which I have felt has become merely a socially acceptable way of calling someone the R-word. I didn’t even include various autistic representations against it because I felt like showing symbols that did not make reference to that logo. Anyway, I’ve created a few of my own, such as the porcupine, representing autistics ability to defend themselves even if they as a community are smaller, and eventually conceived it for the community I started at the University of Central Missouri. Also, kind of as a secondary logo, I created the kaleidoscope, representing the diversity of the autistic community, and the fluidity, as opposed to fixedness of our abilities. There is a well, which I created with inspiration from a quote from my granddad about some self-promoting autism awareness campaigns, which are “a mile wide and an inch deep,” whereas a well provides water, which is essential to live. Also, in line with that way of thinking is a lone bison drinking from water with the rest of its herd in the distance, a commentary on autistic’s so-called “loner” nature. There is a yellow, green, and red triskele, those colors being used for color-coded badges in Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Network International meetings representing either being open to talking, only wanting to talk when one initiates the conversation, and not wanting to talk at all, representing how these three moods alternate among us individuals with time. I have a similar design using rainbow colors, giving a unique take on autistic spinning. There is a lotus, representing psychologist Dr. Laurent Mottron’s “Six Traits of Aspie Perfection” (Logical, Intuitive, Creative, Original, Direct, Resilient) by which I don’t agree with this separatist “Aspie” term being used to rate autistics, but a mere commentary on how that was the first time in history a person’s autism was seen as anything other than a burden. I have a key, representing the key to unlocking autistic’s hidden potential and the potential of our community as a whole. Two symbols going along the same line are a sun and moon symbol and a sun dial, representing our unique sense of time. My two favorites are a tree branch with a fruit at the end (representing our ability to take risks to achieve success), and, to represent the beauty of our unique way of seeing and perceiving things, a squirrel climbing down a tree, with its tail and the shadow of its tail making a heart, while the sunset, in fact with its green ground, makes a rainbow. I think having all these unique symbols is good, and I encourage my fellow autistic to create their own (as long as they aren’t puzzle pieces or crying children), because I believe local autistic communities and their own needs are important, and a common dream, rather than symbols, can unite us. I have had great success with these symbols, even groups suggesting to sell necklaces with one such as the kaleidoscope to raise money with some interest for myself, which is the least bit important to me, but I won’t say no to it altogether. But be warned, that if I do not like one particular aspect of a group, whether it’s its ethical, operational, or commercial aspects, I will not let it use these symbols if I had a choice, even if I made 99% interest. As for everyone here, even if you are not autistic or know someone who is, Autistic Pride Day is for everyone, as there are millions who enrich our world today with this condition, from supposedly autistic Thomas Jefferson and Stanley Kubrick to modern openly autistic Daryl Hannah and Ladyhawke Sparrow. I know this post is a lot to grasp, so thank you for keeping up with it, and Happy Autistic Pride Day.