A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

World Autism Awareness Day: Embrace neurodivergence

Courtesy Autistic Empire
The United Nations General Assembly chose April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 to bring attention to the growing need for communities and organizations to support Autistic individuals.

It’s time to reflect on the love and respect we show others and build a deeper understanding of neurodivergent brains for World Autism Awareness Day, April 2. 

Despite Autism being a part of the human population since recorded history, and probably longer, it remains highly stigmatized. Autistics can have difficulty communicating with non-Autistic individuals, which causes their peers to label them as weird or “off” in some way, usually leading to bullying or ostracization.

As a result of this treatment, depression and anxiety disorders are often associated with Autism. Much of this can be reversed simply by talking to Autistics and taking time to understand how their neurodivergent brains work. 

Autism stigmatization has also led to non-Autistics, or Neurotypicals, overlooking the contributions Autistics have made to the progression of human-kind. Autism is associated with thinking “outside the box” and pushing cognitive boundaries. Some famous people in history who are known or thought to be Autistic are Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Emily Dickenson and Ludwig van Beethoven. 

The term neurodivergent not only applies to Autistic individuals, but Dyslexic and ADHD people as well. Dyslexics and ADHDers are also free-thinkers who have contributed to changing the world in the face of discrimination. 

The United Nations General Assembly designated April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 to bring attention to the growing need to support the Autism community. 

To help celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, guest writer, Noah McSweeney, who has written opinion pieces on Autism the past two years, has submitted a poem. “It’s one that I think will resonate with anyone who has ever been underestimated,” McSweeney said. 


Give silence no unjust power

Inside we scream

Nothing warrants disregard for leaving minds hungry

Real truths undiscovered

Finding out eager appetites for knowledge exist

Makes even the brave tremble

Think some were left behind

Say some chose not to follow

Futile stubborn reasons bathed in best intentions

The opportunities fell away

Ready but unwilling

You can’t say I haven’t tried

Will you see me?

Or will you harbor resentment for things you will never understand?

So much is yet to be seen.

Noah McSweeney, has been a strong advocate for Autism awareness at Santa Rosa Junior College, with award-winning opinion pieces on Autism published at The Oak Leaf. Lately, he has been transitioning from using a letter board to typing on a hand-held keyboard to aid communication. (Courtesy Noah McSweeny)
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About the Contributor
Michael Combs
Michael Combs, Editor
Michael Combs (he/him) is in his fifth semester writing for The Oak Leaf, and his second as co-Editor-In-Chief. He began taking natural resources management classes at Santa Rosa Junior College to pursue his love of nature and the environment but has shifted toward journalism so he can share those passions with the world. Besides the environment, Michael also likes to write about politics, social justice and mental health. He has a bachelor’s of science in neuroscience and mammalian physiology from the University of California, San Diego, and hopes to get back to his roots with more science journalism as well. In his off time Michael likes to read, write and hike as often as possible in beautiful Sonoma County and beyond.

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