People diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – a type of autism spectrum disorder – experience developmental delays. Individuals with this condition are usually awkward in social situations and show few emotions. They may also miss social cues that are obvious to other people and may not understand a person’s body language and facial expressions.
Benjamin Giroux is a young boy diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, and he manifests all the symptoms above. He is not one to show much emotion, and when his parents ask him about his day, they usually get one-word answers.
Sonny Giroux, Benjamin’s father, told TODAY: “When we ask him how his day went when he gets home from school, we don’t get much more than a one-word answer.”
One day, Benjamin went home from Cumberland Head Elementary School looking excited. In celebration of National Poetry Month, Benjamin’s fifth-grade class was asked to write a poem about themselves. The first two words of every line were already provided, and it was up to the students to write the rest.
The kid sat down at the kitchen table and scribbled away, not putting his pen down until he was done. A few hours later, Benjamin finally got up and let his parents read his poem, who immediately got choked up with their son’s heartfelt writing.
Read the boy’s full poem titled “I am Odd” below:
I am odd, I am new
I wonder if you are too
I hear voices in the air
I see you don’t, and that’s not fair
I want to not feel blue
The boy may have a few developmental delays because of his condition, but he surely had a brilliant mind!
“At first, we felt sad and hurt that he feels isolated, alone, misunderstood and odd at school,” Sonny 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.”
The following day, Benjamin was supposed to read his poem aloud in front of the whole class. However, when he woke up that morning, his anxiety took over and he decided to just stay home.
He wasn’t convinced that his poem was any good, so his dad posted it on Facebook hoping to get some positive comments from their friends and family. But what they got was even better than what they expected.
The National Autism Association saw the photo and shared it on their own Facebook page, where it garnered lots of encouraging comments from those who were moved by Benjamin’s honest words.
“We try to read him as many comments as we can to show the impact he’s had. It makes him happy too, which is always nice to see,” Sonny said.
The poem’s popularity earned Benjamin different awards. His piece has also been illustrated in a children’s book, used in songs and even in tattoo designs! But the boy’s favorite part is when people like him who have developmental delays write him letters telling him how they felt empowered and inspired by his words.
“Ben’s goal was to have people understand that being odd is different, and different is amazing, and people shouldn’t be afraid of who they are. And that makes me one proud father!” Sonny said.
Benjamin deserves all the recognition for his brilliant and creative mind! The words that we wrote resonated with many people and empowered individuals who were living life with autism just like him.
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