Yesterday April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day, a special internationally recognised date to encourage UN member states to take measures to raise awareness about autism around the world.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that involves many aspects of the emotional, social and intellectual development of those affected. Being autistic is not easy and even today, autism spectrum disorders are difficult to analyse and, at times, mysterious. The causes of this manifestation are in fact unknown and it is not yet known whether they are born “with us” or acquired over time.
In short, autism is still a taboo but there is a 10-year-old American boy who, with a poem, moved the world telling his rhyming discomfort at school.
Benjamin Giroux of Plattsbugh, New York, simply carried out the task given by the teacher: writing a poem about himself for the national month of poetry.
Benjamin has Asperger ‘s syndrome and his poetry has triggered something magical: from a simple set of words written in black and white, a real viral message was born dedicated to all the autistic children in the world. The poem speaks of how strange he feels and how difficult this is to accept in his school.
“I am odd, I am new… I wonder if you are too… I’m strange, I’m new: I wonder if you are too.”
Here is how Benjamin’s poetry begins, with a question that hides a cry for help and, at the same time, a hope. I feel different from all the others but maybe others feel sometimes too.
He speaks of himself as a castaway, a boy in space, a student always out of place. His parents were moved and displeased at first reading the sensations that Benjamin had expressed with pen and paper. But only by rereading did they understand the true message behind this poem: the strangeness that Benjamin feels is actually a feeling that we all feel when we feel different from others or in difficulty.
What Benjamin transmits is a great suggestion of self-acceptance: we are all strange and different in our own way but not bad or wrong.
Benjamin’s father, moved by his son’s wisdom, posted the poem on Facebook that was immediately shared by the National Autism Association on their official page, becoming viral enough to inspire stories, songs and even tattoos!
Thanks Benjamin for your message, it will be useful to make people aware of autism but above all it will tell how we human beings are different, sometimes funny, sometimes strange but still wonderful.