The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Autism Awareness Month: An Accolade to Neurodivergent People of the Past and Present


April is often associated with new beginnings with the fact that Spring generally becomes more prominent in the weather; a cordial welcome to a new season. Though, there is actually so much more to the month of April than just the flowers blooming. As for the month of April, each day is dedicated to the Neurodivergent people around the world. While they face struggles in the world in a lot more difficult and complex ways, they still bleed red like everyone else that inhabits this planet. Therefore, what they can accomplish is not limited by their different abilities; in fact, they can achieve accomplishments that match those who do not struggle like they do, and could, and have, soared higher than the same people who doubt them. This is a contribution to those who deserve recognition, and proof to the public that success is not exclusive to people who are considered “normal” to society.

The history of Autism Awareness Month dates back to the April of 1970 with Bernard Rimland who has a Ph.D as a psychologist and a researcher for autism. He decided to declare the month of April as Autism Awareness Month to match with his son’s birthday month. That, and because April was around the time where Spring starts. Then 8 years later in the same month, President Ronald Reagan would become the first president to officially designate the month of April to be Autism Awareness Month on the national level.  Eventually in 1963, the next big step in the autism community would be made. The National Autistic Society establishes The Puzzle Piece as the global symbol for the community. It symbolizes resilience, perseverance, aspiration, and togetherness for anyone who lands somewhere on the autism spectrum, emphasizing how everyone is connected. However, it is important to note that some people of the spectrum have spoken out against the symbol, reason being that they are still humans too, and not a puzzle piece that needs to be “figured out.”

Regardless of how the community chooses to be represented, they have proven in history that they can change the world just like anybody else could. For example, famous poet Emily Dickinson. While she was never diagnosed, due to her life taking place in the 80s, many researchers would’ve considered her to be somewhere on the spectrum. When interacting with adults, she’d be extremely introverted and reticent. However, upon communicating with children, she’d open up and have better interactions. Additionally, her poems have been filled with literary elements that expressed autistic themes. She knew herself very well, and it’s shown through her poems about deviation from society and being different.

Another more modern example of successful people on the spectrum is Daryl Hannah, an American actress. Her most popular appearances being in Blade Runner, Splash, and Roxanne. She was officially diagnosed with autism during some time early in her career, and she has been open about her condition to the public. In multiple interviews, she states that the condition has made it hard for her to conform to Hollywood expectations. Her participation in talk-shows were non-existent, parties would make her ill, and many other social get togethers such as the Academy Awards was near impossible to get through. Though despite all the struggles, she has compromised with her condition by making coping mechanisms that soothe the anxiety that comes with autism. She’s proof that, while it may be difficult, those who are on the spectrum can still achieve the same roles and positions as those who are not on the spectrum.

In conclusion, there’s no doubt that autism isn’t just a “disability.” It is not a disadvantage, nor is it a setback. In the end, we’re all similar in the sense that we were born into this world to pursue our dreams and aspirations. Therefore, this article highlights all of those who should be represented during this month of new beginnings. Happy Autism Awareness Month!

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Andy Cao
Andy Cao, Staff Writer
Andy Cao is a Sophomore here at Heritage High School, but only in his first year regarding Journalism. He has a great interest in writing and anything English related. He enjoys reading in his pass time, but listening to music is also a favorable second option. With a connection to nature, the outdoors greatly motivates him in whatever task he's doing, preferably cold weather.