A few months ago I had a moment of pure childhood nostalgia when I took my girlfriend to see Kelly Clarkson perform at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Earlier that week I had wrote a piece on my personal blog about how Katy Perry is helping spread autism awareness and I figured I’d do a Google search to see if Kelly had done any work in the autism community.
While I didn’t find much I did find a youtube video from one of her performances in Munich from a few years back where she shared a personal story about a new puzzle piece tattoo she had got on her shoulder. I had so many questions. Did she do it for autism awareness? Did she have a personal connection to the cause?
What did it all mean?
After watching the video and learning it indeed was not for autism I went back to Google to read more stories on her tattoo.
I talked to several members in our community about the tattoo who said how amazing it was for Kelly Clarkson to spread autism awareness like that. They just assumed that her tattoo was for autism like I had.
It made me look at how our community truly looks at the puzzle piece logo. Whenever I see the puzzle I instantly think “autism awareness.” In our community, I’ve seen countless people ink themselves up with puzzle piece tattoos for different reasons. Some parents have done it for their children who have autism and others have done it simply to get the word out for autism awareness.
These are some of my favorites…
— Autism Speaks (@autismspeaks) September 3, 2015
My newest tattoo, Mickey Mouse with autism puzzle pieces pic.twitter.com/9ivaAdmd3Q
— Krista (Habs 14-3-2) (@kristadani85) November 11, 2015
— Mark Sheehan (@mcdhoops4ever) February 6, 2015
— gabrodiu2080 (@gabrodiu2080) August 6, 2014
Today, the puzzle piece is a trademark logo for the leading national science and advocacy in the world in Autism Speaks. Even the Autism Society, who’s symbol is an awareness ribbon have puzzle pieces that cover the entire logo.
I’d just like to tell Kelly if she ever reads this about how her new puzzle piece ink has helped me learn a lesson about the power of symbols to help educate our communities. I’m very thankful to her for that.