We all know that writing can help you express how you feel when you don’t exactly know how to say it in conversation–and you don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to do this. While it’s not unusual for many children to express their emotions through art and writing, one 10-year-old with autism wrote a poem for a school assignment that surprised everyone.
5th grader Benjamin Giroux was assigned to write a poem called “I Am” for class. Each student had to follow the same directions–to write the first two words of every line—I am, I see, I feel–and then fill in the rest. As such, Benjamin used the assignment as an opportunity to describe what it feels like to live on the autism spectrum. His finished poem ended up moving his parents so much, they were brought to tears.
The most insightful and beautiful part of the poem is the end, when the piece is coming full circle. Benjamin compares the loneliness and isolation he feels to being a castaway, hoping to be found:
“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. I am odd, I am new.”
His poem was shared on the National Autism Association’s Facebook page by his paents, where it’s been liked over 15,000 times. His dad, Sonny Giroux, told the Huffington Post why they shared the poem publicly:
“I… wanted to show Benjamin that he is not, odd, alone, or isolated and that his diagnosis is something to embrace and not something to hold him back. Each like, share and comment he’s received since has made him feel like not only he does fit in and belong in this world, but has also moved him beyond words that he’s touched so many.”
What I love most about this poem is that everyone can relate to it–we all feel isolated and alone sometimes–and this poem is a reminder that we can support each other through these difficult feelings. None of us are truly ever alone, and it’s simply amazing that Benjamin was able to express this through his words. His poem also illustrates how social media, when used effectively, can actually bring us all together.