A simple writing assignment resulted in a beautiful and heartwrenching poem of what it feels like to have autism. The author: 10-year-old Benjamin, who falls on the autism spectrum with Asperger Syndrome.
The fifth grader's assignment was to finish the first two words in every line. Benjamin started with, “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.”
Towards the end he writes,
“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.”
The poem was originally posted by the National Autism Association and has gotten more than 23,000 likes and 15,000 shares. It reached even more people when Australian TV program Sunrise shared it on their page and earned over 125,000 likes and 58,500 shares.
Here is the poem in full:
Asperger Syndrome, according to the National Autistic Society of the U.K., is a form of autism that does not usually have the learning disabilities associated with autism. “They have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence,” says the British organization.
Where they do find difficulty is in social communication, social interaction and social imagination. They may have difficulty in picking up on social cues; understanding other people's thoughts, feelings and actions; understanding jokes, metaphors and sarcasm; and maintaining friendships.
They also have sensory difficulties (with sight, sound, smell, taste and touch), which are either underdeveloped or over-sensitive. They can either easily react to people touching them or encroach upon other people’s personal space, for example.
Individuals with Asperger tend to thrive on routines and have special interests. Someone with the disorder may have very specific set of ways of doing things that they insist upon like taking the same route to school every day. He or she may also have a deep and intense interest and an extensive knowledge on one particular subject or area like trains or computers.
Social inclusion begins with understanding one another, and Benjamin’s poem inches us a little closer to that.