As part of a school assignment, he was asked to write a poem. His piece turned out to be a lot than an assignment.
Benjamin Giroux was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child. As a type of autism, the disorder affects his social skills and ability to learn. You’d never know it from what he was about to write.
The 10-year-old arrived home from school one day, and informed his parents of a special assignment. Mr. and Mrs. Giroux were instantly intrigued, seeing their son so excited. Benjamin barely spoke, whether outside or in school.
In honor of National Poetry Month, the 5th grader at Cumberland Head Elementary was asked to write a poem about himself.
There were only a few simple rules. One: the poem must start with the phrase, ‘I am,’ and two: the students must continue to alternate the phrase every few lines or so. After hours of studious concentration, Benjamin finally finished.
The 10-year-old’s poem, titled “I Am Odd, I Am New,” described what it was like living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Needles to say, the ‘glimpse’ of Ben’s daily life stole everyone’s hearts. Even his parent’s were admittedly ‘choked up’ after reading it.
“At first, we felt sad and hurt that he feels isolated, alone, misunderstood and odd at school,” the boy’s mother 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.”
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Other readers hailed the 10-year-old’s poem as ‘genius,’ ‘out of this world,’ and ‘truly inspirational.’ His father agreed.
“I’m am so proud of Benjamin for the effort he put into this poem,’ Mr. Giroux stated.” “When he wrote down the first four lines, and had me read them, I told him that it was great and that he could really make something special…”
As it turned out, Benjamin’s father was right. The poem transformed into a viral phenomenon. It served as ‘beacon of hope’ for parents and young children struggling with the disorder. When asked how his son’s poem might ignite a fire under a nation, Mr. Giroux said it best.
“We would love if Benjamin’s poem could help start a social movement that people embrace who they are no matter what that may be,” the father said. “Be proud of yourself. As we have said to Benjamin, Odd is different and different is amazing.”