Our Primary 6 and Secondary students explored the theme of Difference in a recent competition. Here's a showcase of the winning entires.
The Difference by Terrence, Primary 6
Alfred Johnson, a boy with an un-diagnosable problem. He finds out what was wrong with him afterwards.
Emily Watson, a girl in a wheelchair. Alfred’s girlfriend, in the end, cheerful.
Zachary Evans, a boy who is visually impaired and is not resigned to his fate.
Jessica A. Davids, a girl who is mildly autistic.
Jack Simpson, gang leader in the 8th Grade, thinks he has some kind of power.
Mr. Tom Simpson, principal, thinks negatively about class 1a. Jack’s father.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson– parents of Alfred and main motivator.
Ms. Sally– Form Teacher of Class 1a, supports the idea of setting up a club.
Alfred is a boy with a problem that is un-diagnosable. His friends and teacher support his idea of setting up a club for people with special needs. They overcome obstacles and find their way in life.
Different by Chiang Yee, Primary 6
“My friend always tells me, everyone is different. My name is Max and I always think that I am a lousy, useless human being not special or gifted. How am I different? Who am I?”
Out of the blue, someone was banging on the door. I stared at the door, a cold feeling went down my spine and my heart started beating very fast, I slowly approached it, looked through the peephole and looked around. There was nothing but a green tree which was always there. I opened the door and I saw a little green guy standing, looking hungry and weak, wearing a green cap and tiny shoes. He was a Dwarf.
He dashed into the house and jumped up onto the cabinet. He stood there and did not move, I was so frightened that I was chewing on my fingernails and shivering as if I was in the North Pole. The dwarf, still standing on the cabinet, stared at me. Then he spoke…
“Come here,” he said “Who…are...you?” I replied. “Excuse me, I asked you to come here, not to ask a question,” the dwarf said. “Okay” I replied. Every part of my body was telling me that the dwarf was just like a small ant in the biggest colony so just go. But, I was scared. I walked forward. Stopping at the cabinet, while the dwarf passed me a candy.
Although he looked fierce, he was kind. He was skinny, so I offered food but he said no. I gave him a cup of water and he said, “I prefer coke”. Which to me, was stupid, he was so skinny and yet he wanted coke, I mean a normal human being would rather have water than coke when they were thirsty. So, I opened the fridge and took out the 1.5L bottle of coke when the dwarf said, “No ups, I just want the bottle.”
“Okay…” I replied. A bottle of 1.5L of coke?! Is he crazy? The next thing I saw was an empty bottle of coke. I got irritated for no reason and started talking, “Why would you drink a 1.5L of coke instead of water?” “I like it,” replied the dwarf. Immediately, I thought “What’s with him?”
“Do you want food?” I asked again. “No,” he replied. “I’m different from humans, I only drink coke and don’t eat food. Doesn’t your mum or dad tells you everyone is different?” “No, my mum died two years ago and my dad is nowhere to be found,” I replied. The dwarf felt sad for me and told me a story about difference. “Everyone on Earth is special and differ- ent, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at this, you’re bad at everything,” he said. I trusted him and he lived with me, I set a goal to change the world. 20 years later, I did.
My name is Max. I am currently a doctor, part-time chef and a father. Even though I have lost a friend, it’s been 20 years. As the days passed, the memory of him telling me the story and living with me, slowly fades away in my memory. But still the lesson he taught me is still kept alive; I am different.
Outsider by Shem, Secondary 1
The sad sidewalk.
But understand more,
Than they do.
Amidst the curiosity,
That can only be solved,
By someone like me.
My Autism by Ryan, Secondary 3
I woke up today
With the sun smiling down on me.
I had a plan in mind
For today, and the very next day.
I slipped into my flip-flops
And headed to the bathroom;
Feeling guilty inside
For ignoring the pleading of my second pair of flip-flops.
The bathroom door did its best to push against me
But I was determined and the door gave in.
I picked up my tiny, talkative toothbrush,
Brushing my teeth whilst exchanging greetings.
I kept the conversation short and soft
For I have a great day ahead
And I, am eager to face yet another
Although there are many bad people out there,
I believe one day,
People will open up and understand
People like me.
For now, I have to leave my safe house
To head to the learning facility
And try to fit in.
I hope that one day
Everyone will not judge people with autism
As weird and unsociable.
But recognise us for the person
we are inside.
By Joyce, Secondary 4
He was a strange boy,
Only when he talked and thought-
As strange as he was,
He was normal too.
He had hopes, dreams and feelings
And true emotions.
He was mistreated.
and yet he Still wants to see light.
Is it wrong for him
To perceive things differently?
To sometimes strongly
Feel, act and think when he
Starts losing control?
Then, is it right to
Socially exclude him and
Abuse him with words,
Words that he can feel,
Looks that he can touch and smell,
Feelings he can see?
He has autism,
But he does not mind it,
For he is happy,
The way he is now.
By Vera, Secondary 4
People say the world is round
But I think it’s not
It could be flat or even a square
Why let something define our perception?
Life is not ordered
Life is not in black and white
Or so people say
My life is full of colours of different
Shades of blue
When people make me mad,
I turn a shade of red
When I turn red, people laugh
And I turn blue again
With tears streaming down my cheeks
I run away from the people
I lock myself in a room
And I let myself cry
Why can’t people understand me?
So what if I’m different?
People like me excel in things you don’t even know.
Why do you laugh at me?
I am more than an autistic person.
By Anna, Secondary 4
People see blue, I see cyan. People see apple. I see red circle.
People see other people. I see bullies.
So, yes, it is pretty obvious that I perceive the world differently from others. From a young age, I was told that I had a disability, that I am not normal, that I am a hindrance to society. They branded a tag on my forehead, using a searing hot iron— autistic. I believed every word.
As a result of my autism, I had poor social skills. At first glance, people always think I’m friendly and sociable. After the first conversation, they think the opposite. Avoided and scorned, I was treated worse than anyone in my class. Was it wrong that I overthought every small human interaction that I faced? That I second-guessed myself every second?
But after a while, you get used to it. The jeering, the stares, the shunning, it is my life. I thought I was fine with it.
That was until the day someone found my sketchbook. I found it flung on the floor near my desk, open, papers were scattered across the floor, some bearing red marks screaming “loser” at me, some viciously torn apart. Instinctively I went on to my knees, gathering what used to represent my hopes and dreams, now a reminder of hopelessness.
Uncontrollably, hot tears started streaming down my face. This time, it was not out of sadness or embarrassment. It was out of anger. For the first time, I acted without thinking twice, swinging my arms wildly, knocking tables and chairs around until the floor was replaced by scattered paper, broken pencils and torn textbooks.
When I finally came to my senses, shame flooded my being and I ran out of the classroom, past the stunned teachers, out of the hellish school, not stopping until I reached a small stream.
Watching the fluid blue rush past, I spotted a maroon circle at the edge of the bank. A flower. Realisation hit me.
I was born with this ability.
Now, I would learn to wield my power.
By Benjamin, JC 1
“It is a story about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way”
Can this quotation be applied to people with special needs throughout the world?
In the quotation, Haddon sees difference in someone as being someone, perhaps isolated, seeing things from a perspective that is not in tune with the ‘proper’ way. The author has written work exploring the autistic spectrum in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’, and championed the idea that people with special needs, whilst different, see things in a manner that is beneficial due to their different perspective. However, this is an idea that is sadly not shared around the world.
Many countries and societies, especially liberal and developed countries in the West, have adopted Haddon’s view of people with special needs. These are the countries that have pushed for equality, and research to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of people with these conditions. They are also the countries that seek ways to help counter the weaknesses, include these people in their societies and play on their strengths. Countries and societies, such as those within the United States, United Kingdom and Finland are pioneers in their own right in researching methods and ways to help these people in society. These are the places where entire auditoriums are moved to tears when a stammering student manages to deliver a full speech, helped by the extremely hard work of the teachers, parents and friends.
Yet, it is also true that many other countries, chiefly less-developed countries and countries that are conservative or ultra-conservative, that see special needs students in a slightly different light. While they are similar in the sense that people with special needs are seen as outsiders, they are different in the sense that this ‘difference’ does not necessarily make them better. This might be due to the lack of research in this subject as developing countries need to invest in other areas, whilst conservative countries might fault these people as being ‘abnormal’.
This is hardly an unsolvable issue. One must recognise that developed, western civilisations are much older than their conservative counterparts, and advances in inclusion have only been accomplished in the last few decades. It will be hard-pressed to force these societies to change their mindset in a fraction of the time that it took liberalized societies to do so. Yet, the thinking behind this still stands. The quotation might not be applicable to all special needs people throughout the world as of now, but as time passes, research is concluded, information is gathered – it can be. The spreading of the idea that being ‘different’ is completely innate in all humans, then having special needs will be seen as normal and a part of what makes people unique. This uniqueness should not and, in time, will not be looked down upon, but rather accepted as a benefit. Haddon’s quotation isn’t an idealised one, and whilst not currently applicable to all countries, with information spreading it will be.