Using a puzzle piece as a symbol for autism awareness encourages the idea that our society is interested in support for autistics. Not only is this not helpful but the way the campaigners are falling short of the supposed goal is only the beginning how this causes problems.
Disability rights activists have done much to encourage a better view of disability but bigoted traditions are deeply rooted in our culture. The ways that pity is not only hurtful but dangerous is not something society's leaders have been willing to accept. If you describe a problem in order to provide a solution but then don’t provide one, you have instead defined the people with the problem as needing to be eliminated. This is what promotes autism awareness, and the abuse and neglect of autistics has been encouraged as a result of the campaign.
The puzzle piece symbol encourages people to believe that autistics are mysterious, and that we have some strange disorder. It's believed that there is an epidemic of autism similar to an alien invasion. The way our society deal with an alien invasion is similar to what is taught in science fiction movies. We attack with the goal of eliminating the aliens. Some would claim the goal is to eliminate the source, but this is not the way our culture deals with these issues.
Empowerment is such an obvious concept to people who need it most. It's similar to how someone who is dehydrated in the desert can envision water when there is none. In order to encourage inclusion, we must first accept that our society is not geared to include more people at all. The dominate goal is exclusion and disenfranchisement. When we are willing to accept that we are exclusive and that our traditions encourage presumption and bigotry; we will be in a position to work on changing it.
Similar to the way activists within the disability community have attempted to alter the ablism our society encourages, some autistics have attempted to use the Internet to alter the view of autism. The message has been ignored, politicized, and otherwise exploited in all the traditional ways. This is not only harmful to autistics but it's a sign our society is more willing to choose the convenience of hatred for any uncomfortable differences than to support people who exhibit the difference.
The more fashion conscious politicians would like to change our name, eliminate all labels, or only look at autism in a medical/professional way or for how policies are created. Unfortunately, all these ways of dealing with the how people are being exploited due to something that is disguised as support are following the same tradition of exclusion. Mainly, the people who are leading the way in what is described as a revolution are the professional politicians, educators, and mental health workers.
In this way, every attempt at supporting people’s rights have failed and there is no movement or attempt at revolution that we can follow. It’s wonderful that there are a few people now working to support inclusion for autistics but there are many traps. We don’t need better advocates, and we don’t only need more. We certainly don’t need to show how some can pass the exclusion test or how autism is just a bad part of an otherwise acceptable exclusionary system. What we need is for more people who are advocating to embrace a type of advocacy that is truly revolutionary and one that unlike any other such attempt begins to create real inclusion. Otherwise, we will continue to be objectified as puzzle pieces and attacked as aliens. Any attempt at inclusion that gets co-opted by any group with a more important agenda will instead promote exclusion.