The puzzle piece — whether your child attends one of our autism schools in Brevard County or you’re here visiting on our website for the first time, you’ve certainly noticed the puzzle piece icon that we use in our branding. We incorporate puzzle pieces into our branding so much that it’s literally part of our name: Puzzle Box Academy!

Others who aren’t familiar with us may recognize the iconic puzzle branding from Autism Speaks®, an organization dedicated to spreading autism awareness and providing resources for parents and those affected by autism with helpful, fact-based resources. Regardless of your background with the puzzle symbol, chances are that you’ve been able to associate it with autism in some way, shape, or form. 

More Context Behind This “Puzzling” Topic

But why are puzzle pieces used in conjunction with autism-related businesses and organizations? Well, that’s the topic of today’s blog post, courtesy of the team here at Puzzle Box Academy. Whether you’re a parent of a child with autism, an autism teacher, or you parent a child with another developmental delay, we think that learning the “why” behind the puzzle symbol is worth knowing. So, keep on reading to learn more!

What’s the Deal With Autism and Puzzle Symbolism? 


The first usage of the puzzle piece in the context of autism can be traced back to 1963. The journal Autism states that the original puzzle symbol was used as a logo for the British organization known as the National Autistic Society. The roots of the puzzle icon date back many decades, and what was depicted on the logo is not politically correct or considerate to the sensitivities of the modern day. 

The puzzle-shaped logo of a crying child was thought to posit the idea that autism caused suffering and that children affected by the autism spectrum wouldn’t fit into society. Because we know this simply isn’t true, fortunately, the logo was eventually scrapped by the National Autistic Society. 

Enter the Puzzle-Ribbon

Ribbons are used to help spread awareness for a variety of organizations and causes including Breast Cancer (pink ribbons), military-related causes (yellow ribbons), and other issues such as addiction, blood-related complications, and heart disease (red ribbons). If you’re familiar with how puzzle pieces are related to autism, then you’ve almost certainly seen the iconic rainbow puzzle piece ribbon. 

This unique, colorful ribbon was brought to the public eye by the Autism Society circa the turn of the millennium in 1999. While this organization was monumental in bringing this symbolism and branding forward, they didn’t horde rights to the design. Benevolently, they shared this design with countless non-profit organizations in hopes of spreading awareness and raising funds to research autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

Due to the fact that autism is a uniquely complex and broad-spectrum disorder filled with many, many inquisitive and bright minds, it was seen as appropriate to use many different colors to try and symbolize this dynamic disorder. The rainbow colors used in autism awareness ribbons only seemed fitting for the inherent diversity within the autism spectrum, and since the design’s inception, the rainbow ribbon has generally been met with praise and acceptance. 

The Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece Project

Though our branding and logo at Puzzle Box Academy features multiple, interlocking puzzle pieces, Autism Speaks’ utilized a single puzzle piece as a way to help promote and teach autism awareness in schools. These schools include centers for developmentally delayed children, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even higher education institutions. 

The idea was to encourage open conversation about ASD awareness and help support those who are affected by it. Autism Speaks’ project even went as far as offering a physical tool kit that included a template to make puzzle pieces. Students could then decorate and personalize their own puzzle piece, and then combine them with others’ to create one unified, interlocking network of puzzle pieces. Recognize the symbolism of unity? 

Other Notable, Puzzle-Friendly Organizations

While again, there are plenty of organizations that use the puzzle piece symbol, we’re mentioning a few of them in our blog post simply as examples: 

The Puzzle Piece Foundation

This non-profit works carefully yet diligently to make sure that children affected by the autism spectrum and their families have access to appropriate support services and resources. This includes financial support as well as peer-to-peer support. 

I Love a Child With Autism

This retail business was founded by the mom of a child affected by autism, and she sought to help increase awareness wherever she went while encouraging others to do the same. Through magnets to t-shirts, bumper stickers, regular stickers, and more, the puzzle piece is used in many of these items as well as her company’s logo. 

Autism UGA

As a student organization operated at the University of Georgia, Autism UGA offers multiple autism support services to the collegiate community and also works to spread autism awareness in and around campus. Their clever logo combines the outline of the state of Georgia with a puzzle piece!

Quality Autism Education and Resources In Palm Bay, Rockledge, and Beyond

Puzzle Box Academy is here to help your child thrive and flourish through hands-on, real-world education designed to reinforce academic concepts and apply practical knowledge to real-life situations. With an all-star staff and Board-Certified Behavior Analysts along with a distinct passion for what we do, our goal is to help set your child up for total success. 

Schedule a tour at our Palm Bay, Rockledge, or Melbourne campus today by getting in touch with us!

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