Updated: Jun 6
I see a lot, and have seen over the years a lot of people who cannot stand ‘merch’ with Autism symbols or phrases on. I mean, t-shirts, badges, stickers etc., that have either puzzle pieces or infinity symbols on. But the hate for it all just seems so misplaced – and indeed there are bigger things to rage about. I feel like surely, 90%, if not more of the time, the people wearing the merch are doing it from a place of love and support, for their loved one, for a friend, for the community in general or indeed just as a self-advocacy thing – and not to piss off an entire section of the population.
People sometimes say it’s unnecessarily condescending, and yes sometimes the designs are not the best, but again, it’s misguided to just voice hate for that – if anything, the only thing that needs to be said are some gentle nudges towards how it could be a little bit offensive to an actual autistic person. And obviously the main problem is the issues surrounding the puzzle piece symbolism, which I honestly don’t want to get into here since it’s a separate problem.
I think the key thing is understanding, on both sides. The need to understand that just because you hate certain designs, doesn’t mean that someone is wearing it just to offend you or others. The need to understand that just because you like a design, doesn’t mean it’s kind to the people who it represents. Think, inform, adjust your behaviour accordingly, without throwing hate at someone.