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Autistic Boy Writes A Poem About How 'Odd' He Is And Leaves People In Tears
In 2016 when a then 10-year-old Benjamin Giroux was asked by his teacher to write a poem about himself, his inspired and emotional response brought his teacher, parents and thousands of people around the world to tears.
My poem. I am Odd. #ODDTOO pic.twitter.com/djVVtPN9mI
- Benjamin Giroux (@GirouxBenjamin) April 24, 2016
Benjamin, who lives with autism, wasn't usually a child who shared his emotions but the class assignment to pen a poem about himself, starting every few sentences with "I am", inspired in him a response that was worthy of global attention and has since gone viral. He wrote:
"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
I am odd, I am new
I pretend that you are too
I feel like a boy in outer space
I touch the stars and feel out of place
I worry what others might think
I cry when people laugh, it makes me shrink
I am odd, I am new
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
I am odd, I am new."
His parents were overcome with emotion when Benjamin proudly handed them his poem to read.
"At first, we felt sad and hurt that he feels isolated, alone, misunderstood and odd at school," Benjamin's dad, Sonny, told.
"As the poem went on, we realised 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 poem was picked up by the National Autism Association, who shared it on their Facebook page. After that it quickly went viral and has been shared nearly 40,000 times at the time of writing accompanied by the hashtag #oddtoo.
In the past three years Benjamin has won awards, seen his poem be turned into an upcoming children's book, inspired several songs, and seen his words turned into supportive tattoos.
But Benjamin says the most special thing to come from his work is receiving letters from people who live with autism telling him how empowered and inspired they were by his words.
Benjamin's dad, Sonny, told Pretty 52 exclusively: "Benjamin is doing ok. He still has his struggles at school, but each day is a new beginning with a new hope that things will be better."
Benjamin worries that he won't be able to replicate the success of his first poem and so has turned his hand to drawing and writing music instead.
But, despite Benjamin's hesitation to put pen to paper again, the comments from those who've been inspired by his words shows he's already achieved more than most authors could wish for.
Stopped by #FireIsland for some fun in the sand! #oddtoo #oddisbeautiful #autismawareness #autismacceptance #aspergers #antibully pic.twitter.com/cokiHRU0dI
- Benjamin Giroux (@GirouxBenjamin) October 3, 2016
One Facebook user commented: "Your beautiful and wise poem shows that you, at the early age of 10, have a very special, sensitive and insightful quality that so many will not even develop in adulthood. Treasure your uniqueness and be proud of yourself. You'll go far."
While another said Benjamin's words had given her hope for her own autistic son: "My 9 yr old son also lives with Autism & ADHD. It's so inspiring to read such a lovely poem!! I pray for these kids everyday! After all, they hold our future on their hands!! Benjamin we appreciate you!!!"
A third wrote: "I hope that this little boy never has to fit in BUT is accepted for being himself. He writes marvellous stuff."
Benjamin is still overwhelmed by the huge response he's received. He spoke exclusively with Pretty 52 to say: "I'm really touched that my poem has inspired so many. I wish I could meet them so I'd have more friends."
Featured Image Credit: Twitter: GirouxBenjamin