Benjamin Giroux, 10, is a boy from New York who has autism. Like many others on the autism spectrum, Benjamin doesn’t usually express his emotions, either verbally or in writing.
But an exciting school assignment inspired Benjamin so much that his poem has gone viral.
One day, the teacher asked Benjamin and his classmates to write a poem about themselves. And not just any poem. Every few lines had to start with the words “I am.” Now, for an autistic child, writing about themselves can be extremely challenging.
But for some reason, Benjamin was inspired by the teacher’s special assignment and reached inside himself to express who he thought he was.
The result was nothing short of amazing. His teacher immediately knew that Benjamin’s poem was something extraordinary, and now his words are inspiring people around the globe.
Rhyming his words
Benjamin put his whole heart and soul into thinking about who he is. Incredibly, his poem also rhymes.
His moving poem begins as follows, “I am odd, I am new. I wonder if you are too.” “I understand now that so are you … I say I, ‘feel like a castaway.’ I dream of a day that that’s okay. I try to fit in. I hope that someday I do,” it continues.
When Benjamin’s parents read his poem, they were overwhelmed by emotion. “At first, we felt sad and hurt that he feels isolated, alone, misunderstood and odd at school,” said Benjamin’s father, Sonny, in an interview.
“As the poem went on, we realized that he understands that he’s odd and that so is everyone else in their way, which is what Ben wants everyone to embrace.”
It’s not hard to understand why the poem made his parents emotional. After all, this was a boy on the autism spectrum who usually didn’t express his emotions at all, let alone in writing.
The assignment had obviously ‘spoken’ to Benjamin in such a way that he was moved to examine the question of who he was. The poem shows an emotional maturity not expected in a 10-year-old, and beautifully pin-points how he feels about who he is. He seems more in touch with his emotions than most adults and has distinguished himself from a literary point of view, as well.
When his parents published Benjamin’s poem online, it soon went viral. Then the National Autism Association shared it on their Facebook page. The poem was shared more than 400,00 times with the hashtag #OddToo.
Benjamin’s words have since been used in a children’s book. He has received a letter from people all over the world who were inspired by the young boy’s words. He has even won awards for his work.
But Benjamin has turned his focus from writing to other ways of expressing himself: playing music and drawing. We look forward to seeing what this talented youngster comes up with in the future.