We developed our first logo 15 years ago. As a family-centered organization, the voices of the people we serve are always a determining factor in important decisions, so we designed our logo based on input from our members and our parent-led board of directors. We chose a heart to represent the love we have for our community, different shades of blue to embrace diversity, and a puzzle piece to promote autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion. At that time, autism was much less common and support organizations were hard to find. We updated our logo about 5 years ago to give it a more modern look, but we kept the blue puzzle heart because families had complimented us over the years and the image seemed tied to our identity.
These days, the puzzle symbol for autism is not universally appreciated. Some find it offensive, and some voices from the adult autistic community have expressed the hurt they feel when they are viewed as a puzzle to be solved, rather than a person with their own dreams, desires, and gifts to share with the world. Our goal at AZA United is to be of service, and that means helping people in whatever way is meaningful to them. It does not mean making them change into what others have decided they should be. Autism presents challenges, but the autistic person should never be viewed as the challenge. Our purpose is to help, not to fix. And our core value is to bring people together. If the puzzle piece symbol has become divisive, it no longer supports our mission to help as many families as possible.
In the early days of autism awareness, the “puzzle” concept represented different things that needed to be solved. For parents, the challenge was figuring out how to get help for their children, and how to protect their rights. For AZA United, it was reshaping a broken system of care for the autism community in Arizona. These challenges still exist, but without a doubt huge progress has been made. So much so that the voices of autistic people are now being heard loud and clear, changing the way services are designed and delivered. These are the people we are privileged to serve, and when they speak, we need to listen.
Today we announce a new logo for AZA United. A logo is just a symbol, but symbols can be powerful. We have spent the past year reflecting upon what matters most to the people we serve and the organization that supports them. When we look at this new logo, we see 3 things.
We thank you for joining us on this journey of autism awareness, acceptance, and advancement. We are humbled to be a part of it and to help this community that we all love so much.