When he came home from school last April, 10-year-old Benjamin Giroux sat down at the kitchen table, started writing and didn’t stop until he’d completed a poem about himself. The poem was a homework assignment in honor of National Poetry Month.
Benjamin has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and his 18-line poem describes what it’s like to live in his world. Those who are diagnosed with Asperger’s exhibit many of the same symptoms, including problems interacting with others, strict adherence to routines, and focusing all their energy on just a few interests.
Benjamin, a 5th grader at Cumberland Head Elementary School in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and the rest of the students in his class were supposed to get up and read their poems out loud the next day. But by the time he woke up the next morning, he was so convinced that his poem would flop that he couldn’t even bring himself to go to school that day. But his dad knew differently. Instead of letting the poem his son had worked so hard on slip away unnoticed, he posted it on Facebook.
His dad couldn’t bear to see the poem Benjamin worked so hard on slip away unnoticed, he posted it on Facebook.
He hoped the post would prompt some encouraging comments that he could then share with Benjamin, but the post went further and reached more people than he could have imagined.
The National Autism Association ended up re-posting Benjamin’s poem on its page, and since that time, it’s received more than 5,000 comments and almost 38,000 shares. “Congratulations” and “Thank yous” started rolling in, with more than a few expressing appreciation for a young boy writing in simple yet well-honed verse what many adults struggle to express. The poem has even been translated into over 20 different languages.
“At first, we felt sad and hurt that he feels isolated, alone, misunderstood and odd at school,” his father, Sonny, later said.
“As the poem went on, we realized that he understands that he’s odd and that so is everyone else in their own way, which is what Ben wants everyone to embrace.”
Share Benjamin’s poem to let people know that being different is okay!