The Virginia Institute for Autism (VIA) is a local organization that is making the complex manifestations of autism clear for their clients, families, friends, and their surrounding communities. By bridging science and service to create a brighter future for those affected by autism, VIA continues to push the envelope by providing extensive services to clients of all ages while working with top researchers from the University of Virginia, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and other institutions around the country.
Nationwide, 1 in 59 children have autism(1), and in the state of Virginia, only 50% of individuals with autism receive the services they need(2). For 23 years, VIA has been working to bridge this gap by extending outreach, education, and adult services to individuals with autism, as well as their families and communities across the region.
VIA came to us with the goal to refresh their logo and renew their commitment to creating a more autistic-friendly world through enhanced messaging and branding. The nuances and individuality of autism makes its treatment incredibly complex. Making these nuances clear to clients, parents, and the community at large is no easy task, yet VIA does this on a daily basis through the services and treatment they offer to hundreds of individuals. And, even more remarkably, the VIA staff are able to engage with each client and find positivity and brightness in everyone.
So, as we considered how autism is typically described as a “spectrum,” we thought how limiting this was: first, it places people along a single line marking them more or less severe than another person with autism and, second, didn’t consider the individual strengths each person brings to the table. We also wanted to further showcase VIA’s expertise in creating unique and variable methods of treatment for their clients. We came up with the idea of a constellation because, like all people, individuals with autism have their own distinctive strengths and weaknesses, creating a myriad of points that form the unique constellation of their own identity.
With this in mind, we created new logo that emphasized VIA’s ability to challenge the status quo by creating new pathways to success for their clients. One example of this is the community partners internship program VIA created for their clients to develop new skills through using the strengths they already have to find meaningful work and create feelings of dignity, and self-worth. Not only do patients and students benefit from increased feelings of self-efficacy and independence, but also local businesses, through employing VIA clients, help spread knowledge about autism-spectrum disorder around the community. Initiatives like this brought for the idea of turning traditionally negative spaces and traits, into positive ones. You’ll notice the new logo is completely defined by the negative space between the shapes because VIA is constantly working to challenge social norms and advocate for the unique abilities of their clients.
By creating new terminology because the existing felt inadequate, we were able to help this organization discover new ways in which to speak about themselves that felt more accurate internally, more accessible externally, and full of hope for everyone. To learn more about VIA and the work that they do, visit viacenters.org