Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – I Am Michael

In Their Own Words – I Am Michael

This weekend, we received the following e-mail (and accompanying poem) from Gary Herrmann, a member of our community who is the father of a nine-year-old named Michael, who has Asperger Syndrome.

Like a lot of kids with Asperger Syndrome, my son has difficulty in social settings. He has one good friend. At the time he wrote this poem, both families had been very busy for a couple months, and he hadn’t been able to see his friend Billy very often. That, combined with some of the difficulties he had been experiencing in school lately, probably contributed to the feelings he expresses in the poem below.

The assignment was to type the poem. He was given some direction as to how each line should begin and word to use in each. 

I was overwhelmed by the poignancy expressed in his poem. As you will see, my son’s name is Michael, and he has a heart the size of our planet … Maybe my son’s poem will strike a chord with parents and families and remind them that even if they have difficulty expressing them, our children experience all of the same emotions we do.

I        am    Michael.
I     wonder    if    I   am   human?
I   hear  ringing    all  the    time.
I   see    molecules ……I   think.
I    want    more   friends .
I   am    lonely.
I   pretend      I   have    more       friends  .
I feel       left  out.
I  have   the   record   of        the             least     friends    in    the     school .
I     worry    if  I   have   no   purpose.
I say  jokes  to   be   funny.
I  hope   people   now   understand.
I   am  Michael.                      

If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

  1. celia
    April 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    this is very gooc

  2. April 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    OMG, that is so poignant and profound! I feel for poor Michael, my heart aches for him. All our children need so much love. I wish kids weren’t so cruel while they attend school.

    Best of luck in life to Michael & his family. I hope he has as many friends as he wants someday!

  3. Amy Lawing
    April 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    This is exactly what I pray I never have to hear coming out of my sons mouth or on paper. I pray everyday that God surrounds Christopher with friends and people who care for him. He is on the spectrum and is in 1st grade.

  4. April 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    My 11 year-old son, Billy, could have written this too. My heart goes out to you and anyone else who sees their child when they read what Michael wrote.

  5. Alex's mo
    April 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for this. My son is much the same way. He is kind, sweet, gentle, and in a society that values violence in boys, has a difficult time fitting in. Please give Michael a hug from our family.

  6. Richard
    April 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Well.tbh as much as I feel for autistic kids I think its all bull [edited by Autism Speaks for inappropriate language]. I apparently have aspergus syndrome and I’m like the most popular kid in school. So tbh people need to stop bieng like awww. Poor kid. And my sence of understanding and social settings is fine. And most of all I’m empathetic. :).

    • Danielle
      April 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      Richard… you need to understand that not all people with Autism or Aspergers syndrom are excactly the same. Some kids are more normal that others… My 5 yr old daughter is scared of social settings and she can not even go outside to play with her sisters who do not have a disorder like her. So yes I say say “Awww poor little girl”

    • Kelley
      April 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      And your very presence radiates the world with light… We get it, but you should know, empathy, does not say something is bull crap. It understands that even though you apparently have something, does not mean you have been diagnosed by a professional. You might just be jerk who thinks that everyone likes him. But your social setting are far from fine sir! A nine year old boy wrote this and you have the nerve to leave such a nasty comment about it? Then proceed to tell everyone that your social setting is fine?
      Why don’t you just keep your oh so popular mouth shut, and keep these kind of “emPATHETIC” statements to yourself.

    • Laura
      April 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

      This child is entitled to his feelings, Aspergers diagnosis or not. Please let him–and us–express ourselves as we want.

    • Sharon
      April 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm

      It concerns me that although you have been provided with a “diagnosis” you feel the need to lash out at a young boy with Asperger’s rather than understanding what the condition of Asperger’s is and how it affects those afflicted with it. I am sure that we can all relate to traits of the condition and think “could I have it?” but that doesn’t mean we make life difficult for those with it. You should be grateful that there are people in this world who are empathetic to the plight of those on the spectrum and are advocates for their well being and support. Every one of these kids that I know or met that are on the spectrum are beautiful children full of love with something to offer, they just struggle to get that message to their peers. It is a shame that based on your comments I cannot say the same of yourself.

    • George
      April 30, 2010 at 3:39 am

      Hey Richard you have the right to say whatever you want to say and it is relevant. You are obviously very passionate and vocal about your situation, It’s hard to accept that people feel you are different when inside you feel the same, We all have differences in our personalities and we are all individuals. We have to ask the question what is different, really.. usually it is the difference between what we deem to be the norm or the similarities of the collective and in most cases it is what society deems to be the norm or normal. People saying oh poor kid or I feel so sorry for him, is probably the most important emotion that we have as human beings, even though you feel that the comments here are “Bull” as you put it I am sure that they are genuine. You are a popular kid in school because you are vocal and you care what people think and you care about how people interact with others, as well as people with special needs. You can make a difference in the world if you direct your feelings positively and with less anger, It’s unfortunate that you used inappropriate language that was edited out of your message,I really would have liked to hear what you had to say. Take care.

    • George
      April 30, 2010 at 3:53 am

      sorry one more comment: one of the biggest differences between Aspergers and Autism is Language or more specifically the ability to speak, You have the gift of speech were many kids with autism do not.
      imagine how different you wold have felt if for you to write your comments on this message board someone had to give you a selection of words for each line you wrote
      and with just that you had to express yourself and how you feel. That is a hard ans sometimes impossible thing to do if you are lower on the spectrum, one only have to meet a single profoundly autistic person to understand what I am talking about.

  7. Kathy
    April 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    This poem really touched me….my grandson is 6 yrs. old and my heart eches to see him struggle in social situations. He is a beautiful child and is so full of love. I have learned to go wherever he is at the moment and have had the most wonderful conversations with him. He is truely amazing!

  8. Polly
    April 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    This breaks my heart. I have an 11 year old son wih moderate autism. I wish he could express himself in this way, but I am not sure I would like to hear what he would have to say.

    • susan
      April 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      i have a teenage son with aspergers and i know at times he feels that way. we have a very hard time going to school. when he gets there he is fine.doing pretty good academically.but as for friends at school he really doesnt have any. he is 15 going into 9 th grade this fall. it makes me sad sometimes. but we are doing the best we can.

  9. Sheri Tinguirlis
    April 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this poem written with so much honest emotion….I have a child whom we adopted and was recently diagnosed with autism and I believe will be diagnosed with Asperger’s. He has huge behavioral and social issues, at 3 already, and this helps me understand what is going on in their beautiful intelligent little minds…..

  10. April 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    This touched my heart, Mr. Herrmann. Your son has a gift for putting words to his pain. I hope you can encourage that! And please make sure to share with him that his poem touched others… THAT is a purpose in this life beyond all.

  11. Kelley
    April 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    This makes me want to cry, My 11 year old son Taylor has what they call Atypical Autism. He says these same things everyday when he comes home from school. I wish I could find a way to make him understand just how special he is in this world. And the he has a very special purpose for being here.
    Bless you Michael, I showed him your poem. It helps him to know that he can be strong just like you.

  12. kristy
    April 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    My son who is 9 with Asperger’s could have written this exact same poem.. makes me cry, because he has expressed all these feelings at some time or other to me before. Just one minute ago, he left my room saying “no one loves me”. Which, he knows on one hand isn’t true, because he knows we love him, but I think it sums up his feelings sometimes about the world.. Our kids with ASD’s are so amazing, sweet and tender hearted. I wish I could wrap them up and keep them safe from all the hurt in the world..

  13. Robin
    April 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    My own son who has so far only been diagnosed with ADHD has expressed some of these same feelings in writings I have found! I am amazed at how young Michael found the courage to express his feelings like this to be seen!!!! Great Job!!!!

  14. Kim
    April 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Bless his heart my son is 11 and also has aspergers and i no he feels like this alot of the time he also has two friends that treat him like a friend should that understand him i am so thankful for those two little boys that unlike all the other kids give my son a chance.

  15. April 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Oh my, this is such a beautiful but poignant poem for such a little person. My granddaughter is 7 and she is in the spectrum too. She is so lovable and loves her best friend at school so much I could see her writing this poem too. I pray every day she can handle whatever the world throws at her with our help and prayer.

  16. April 28, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    This poem brought tears to my eyes. It could be my son writing most of this, only he isn’t able to express himself as well. I feel for Michael. God bless him and all of our children.

  17. Gina
    April 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    This is a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing. I hope Michael does get more friends and knows that he is special and we are all here for a reason.

  18. sharon
    April 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Reading this, I had a flood of tears and emotions go through me. This is the life my little boy has and yet I don’t always stop in the middle of his outburst, cries, etc. to see how hard it is to be him! Thank you for this very honest and open letter!

  19. Donna
    April 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Very insightful for a child. I am impressed how well he was able to put words to paper. It makes me sad that some of our kids on the spectrum feel that way. Hugs to Michael.

  20. Sara
    April 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Michael, you’re a very intelligent boy! I’ll be your friend. :)

    • Laura Brooks
      April 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      Me too! I love all children, mine are fortunately not autistic or anything at all… praise God, but I have a very special soft spot in my heart for autistic kids. They are SO unique, I wish most people thought like they do. I AM YOUR FRIEND SWEETIE!!!!!!

  21. Michelle
    April 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I hope my 6 year old daughter Arianna will be able to express those emotions and feelings with me someday. that was BEAUTIFUL to me!

  22. Ann Watts
    April 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Wow, that reminds me so much of my eight year old son, Ben, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, ADD, and is mildly mentally retarded. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  23. Doreen
    April 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    My grandson is now 17 and his wish all his life was to have lots of friends. My prayers are with him constantly and my heart aches for him. Two years after my husband died, I met and fell in love with a gentleman and got remarried. I did not even think that my grandson could not handle that. We stay in touch, but he can not tolerate change, so I do not get to see him very often. How sad that we can not do more for these children, there should be something that can be done to help them.

  24. Cheryl
    April 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    My son – also named Michael – will soon be 14 and has expressed these same feelings to me many times. It just breaks my heart that he wants friends but has such a difficult time forming friendships. And puberty has not made that any easier! I just hope that with education, people will eventually start to be more understanding.

    Thank you so much for sharing this poem.

  25. Anita Jones
    April 28, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    This is so sad to read. Michel does have purpose here on earth, and no one has a right to make him feel any less! What a precious boy you have there. I pray for all of the children that have ASD. They are so special!

  26. Anita Jones
    April 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I also wanted to add that because of what Micheal and other children go through with autism, I am working as much and as hard as I can to get the awareness out.. Awareness is knowledge, and with knowledge there is exceptions.

  27. gail
    April 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    My heart breaks.

  28. April 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I taught Special Education in public school and I dealt with a child with a very severe case of autism. What complicated the situation, the mother would not accept the fact that her child needed more than I could give with 6-8 more children with other very serious problems also. I am now retired from teaching.Since I left that school, this child has been given more consideration and the parent did commit to allowing him to get more help. He now has an aide to help him cope and do his school work. He is a sweet child, very talented, but does not know how to interact with other children. {fearful of social situations) Age now 10 or 11

  29. suzanne pearson
    April 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I read this to my 11yr son with autism and he said “That is exactly how I feel” It inspired him to make a poster about how people like him feel. Thank you for posting this beautiful heart felt poem.

  30. Grandmom Linda
    April 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I have been introduced to Autism since about 1988 when a dear friend told me that her son was Autistic. I remember asking “what is that”. And for many years,she helped me to understand. And now I accept her sons differences. Fortunately today, most people at least know the word Autism….next we must help them understand the “meaning of the word”. Not just from the Autistic persons perspective, but their entire families perspective. Families who work with Autistic people need our help, acceptance, understanding and they need us to want to know more and teach people more. Keep talking,dear people, to anyone who will listen…if you help one more person understand, Michael or the next Michael will have more friends. And oh by the way, my grandson is autistic. Thanks to my friend, I understood.

  31. Nicole Harper
    April 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    This will always hold a special place in my heart. I have a sister who is 34 years young, her name is Kerry. My sister is mentally retarded, and has autism, and Michael and Kerry are two of the gentle, special souls that make this world full of life. Don’t feel sorry for them, please embrace them and educate yourselves…Let Michael and Kerry and all alike fill you’re heatrs with pride.

  32. Gary
    April 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    I just got done reading through your posts with Michael. He was very pleased that he had made others happy.

    In particular, he was very proud that Kelly showed her son his poem.

    Thanks very much.

  33. Kiley
    April 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    He sees molocules? My eldest sees cells, not quite down to molocules. It’s very difficult for him because it’s hard to pay attention to other things he’s expected to notice when he’s seeing so much. I’m sure my son would love to talk to your son.

  34. Mary Ellen
    April 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Hugs to you all. I am a public school employee seeing more and more cases each day. The degrees are mind boggling. It is poems like this that help me enter into their world’s to help them cope with life and society and their feelings. Thanks for sharing. Peace and Prayers.

  35. Susan
    April 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    My heart melted when I read this story. I have a 7 year old son named Elijah and he has asperger’s. I see his everyday struggles with his social skills. Thank you so much for sharing this so all could see.

  36. Susan
    April 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    My heart ached when I read this poem, and oh how the tears flowed! My son Elijah is 7 and has aspberger’s. I see his constant struggles with social interaction and being that I am an employee at the school he attends I probably see more than most parents would. Thank you so much for sharing this. My heart goes out to Michael and the family and we will keep all of you in our prayers!

  37. Jen
    April 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I feel this is my 9 yr old son to a tee. He only has one friend and has expressed these same feelings. He too is on the spectrum and has ADHD.

  38. cheryl hansen
    April 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Im the mother of a child with autism ,and to me he is life more wonderful gift, he may not be like other child and for that I thank God I thanks him for the wonderful person he sent me my Son Robbie , who yes is not like other child bit he trys

  39. April 28, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I read this poem and I felt overwhelming grief. I do not want any child to feel despair. Its is our responsiblity to make sure children treat other children with respect and are kind. Children do not know what you do not share with them in your own home. Teach them to treat others as they would want to be treated.

  40. veito moretti
    April 29, 2010 at 12:05 am

    THAT IS SO HEART BREAKING-I SEE THE SAME IN MY SON WHEN HE TRIES TO PLAY WITH OTHERS. MY PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU MICHAEL!!!!!

    Noah’s Daddy

  41. George
    April 29, 2010 at 12:25 am

    That was very touching, Being a kid is hard enough I can only imagine the challenges that one faces when they are in a situation where they have a difficult time, piecing together the world around them, and trying to understand the nuances of emotion interaction and language. I have an 8 year old boy on the spectrum and I know that the only way he will learn those nuances is to coach him, teach him in the way he will understand, give him the right words to use, role play situations with him, it may take 20 30 or even a hundred times, but I have found that once he pieces it together in his own mind, he manages his interactions and has meaningful relationships, Parents ! Take the time to do this with your kids special needs or not. They don’t teach this in school at school people often believe that their kids will figure out that on their own. It’s no wonder bullying still exists in a day and age where most agree it is not acceptable. This poem speaks volumes to remind us that we are responsible for our kids, and that they need us more than ever. We can’t sit around and wait for god to surround them people who will care about them , it’s our job.

  42. Lisa
    April 29, 2010 at 12:28 am

    what a great poem….
    my son who is now 16 asked me over a year ago “will someone ever love me”.

  43. John
    April 29, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Heart breaking.. my son is 12 and much lower on the spectrum, he is non verbal and cannot communicate as Michael has.. I often wonder what he is thinking and feeling and would give anything to crawl inside his head for a day.. This poem should be required reading for all of the typical kids in school to help them understand.. I feel for you Michael and wish you the best!

  44. Sarah
    April 29, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Thank you Michael – your poem is beautiful. You remind me so much of my own son (8 years old).

  45. April 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hi Michael, All the fears I have for my own son who is 6 with classic autism was put in the poem you wrote. It is not easy even for typical people to write their feelings down, you Michael have done this wonderfully. Maybe one day you will be a writer with many, many friends. Hope you find peace and a happy, happy life.

  46. Lin
    April 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Michael, this is beautiful. You are surrounded by angels who are your friends. My son is autistic and if he could express his feelings, he would probably write something like you have written. Thank you, sweetie, for sharing your poem!

  47. Teresa Earls
    April 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    As a parent of a Michael with the same problems as your son I feel where your coming from along with your child. My Michael goes though the same thing one friend. Well the other day his friend left him for someone else which my Michael don’t understand that is okay for him to have two friends. Thanks for the poem.

  48. Carol Maczka
    April 29, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I have a entirely new view of autistic children since reading Michael’s poem. I now understand that even though they may not be able to express to us how they are feeling, THEY ARE FEELING! They have all the same feelings our other children have but they are trapped inside. Please thank Michael for opening my eyes to something that I was ignorant of. He has a gift I hope he continues with!

  49. April 29, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    As a parent of my own 13 year old Michael with Aspergers, ADHD and Bi-polar disorder, we have many days like this where he feels alone. It’s so hard to see your child hurting. Thank you Michael for writing this beautiful poem. You are important. You are worthy and you are loved. Peace be with you and your family.

  50. April 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Your poem is touching; i would like to give you a HUG.

  51. April 30, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for submitting that poignant poem by Michael! We, sometimes, need a reminder that they feel just as much as we do. Thank you for the reminder. I hope Michael has many friends to play with. Our grandson is on the spectrum and is 8 years old. He is in a socialization class for kids on the spectrum. It has helped him tremendously, to be able to respond appropriately to kids at school. He doesn’t cry when he looses, or get mad when they play differently than him. He is learning how to be a good friend. I hope you all can find something like this in your area. Thank you Michael for being a great friend :)

  52. Sheila Tryon
    April 30, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    We go through life thinking we are normal, when we see things that don’t fit into our idea of normalcy we stare sometimes a little to hard or think the wrong thing. I thank God for Michael for having the courage to express himself when so many “normal”” people don’t have a clue. Much love for Michael his family and for all of us that a touched by Autism.

  53. Jessica
    May 13, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Thank you for writing this Michael. My daughter is 17 and she has had to deal with this same thing all her life. She has gotten to a place where she can make friends but it took until 10th grade to really get there. She had to work at it and even then kids were really mean to her. I am sending you my love and you have a ton of friends here on this site! I know that you will make it thru. Take Care!!!

  54. Katrena
    June 18, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Michael you DO have a purpose in life your purpose is to be a teacher and to teach others how to understand what Autism Spectrum Disorders are..both clinically and deep down to the core of the person and to help them be more considerate of you and others like you. You have already started reaching for this higher purpose through this beautiful and sad poem. I too have a son named Michael who is turning 8 this month but he has a more moderately severe form of Autism than you apparently as he isn’t able to speak and barely understands what a speech device is and how to use it however I have already experienced some of your heartbreaking loneliness FOR him. He is in a special needs class at school and almost all of the kids are autistic in there so none of them are able to maintain a relationship with him as a friend in a social setting. But at least they are all similar to him in differing ways so he feels like he fits in there I’m sure but how long before being so young is no longer a defense and the other kids start to tease and bully just because he is IN a special needs class and add to that the autism. He isn’t out of diapers yet as he doesn’t seem to connect the feeling of needing to go with the steps of what he needs to do but can go with prompting and I’m positive that will just make things that much worse for him with the other kids. Also he has his next door neighbors child who attempts to come over and play with him every few months but after only about 5 minutes decides to leave because Michael doesn’t play WITH people he plays BESIDE them still and does his own thing and can’t talk and the other boy doesn’t understand even after education and gets bored and leaves. At this point I have to watch Michael’s heartbreak as he stands at the door and cries for 15 minutes inconsolably and doesn’t understand why his “friend” left because HE thought they were having fun. It would almost be better for him it seems if the boy didn’t even come over. Sigh. I hope Richard sees this and decides to mull it around in his brain some because in cases like this it IS awww poor little kid Kudos and Wonderful job Michael for expressing something so personal and yet something that ALL of us need to see

  55. O Podell
    August 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Ah, if others could be more tolerant and truly understand ……
    Michael put this so beautifully.

  56. Leslie
    November 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    To Michael’s Dad:

    This Poem that Michael wrote was one of the first I read on this blog. This Poem reminded me so much of my own 10 year old son with Aspergers. So this weekend when we walk the Walk Now for Autism Speaks in Dallas – we walk for my son A.J., we walk for Michael and we walk for all of the children out there who do not have a voice!

    Thank you Michael for your inspiration … as our T-Shirts will say “Do YOU see the Molecules??” Because we believe that seeing the molecules is a GIFT!

  57. Michael's Dad
    January 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks very much for your post, Leslie. I showed it to Michael recently and told him that you had Tshirts made based on his poem.

    He was very proud and pleased.

    Gary

  58. Brett
    December 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I have a 16 year old boy who has aspergers. He is about the equivalent to a 12 year old intelectually. I love my son very much but it is a very difficult for my wife and I to deal with. We have been able to get accommadations in school for him. It is very upsetting to us that he does not fit in socially but it is what it is. Michael is very well liked at school but often is left out of social gatherings. I love my son with all my heart. I wish he was able to get along socially. That would make things much easier. My heart goes out to all the families with an asperger child. God bless you!

  1. April 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm

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