People Around The World Respond After Autistic Boy Writes That He Has No Friends
When Bob Cornelius went to back-to-school night at his son’s school, he learned a lot about his son, Christopher, via a worksheet posted on the wall. “Pizza” was listed as his favorite food, and “soccer” was listed as his favorite sport. But when it came time for Christopher to fill in his response to the “Some of my friends are,” prompt, he wrote, “No one.”
Did your heart just break like ours did?
Cornelius wrote a Facebook post about it, noting that Christopher is on the autism spectrum, which makes it harder for him to make friends. Cornelius asked parents to talk to their kids about empathy for those with special needs—and the response Cornelius received was amazing.
“Never have five letters cut so deep, and they weren’t even directed at me….it was just an overly simplistic statement that spoke volumes,” he wrote in his tear-jerking post.
Here’s an excerpt from the now-viral post, which has now been shared almost 53,000 times.
“My son is very smart and has a great sense of humor. Every adult that meets him is drawn to him. However, because he needs the input, he will spontaneously flap his arms and make loud, guttural sounds from time to time… at the end of the day it comes down to compassion, empathy and understanding. But mostly empathy. Not from you guys, but from your children… The only solution I can come up with is to share this with you and ask that you have a conversation with your kids. Please tell them that children with special needs understand far more than we give them credit for. They notice when others exclude them. They notice when they are teased behind their back (a lot of times ‘behind their back’ is right in front of them because they think the ‘different’ child doesn’t understand). But mostly they are very much in tune when they are treated differently from everyone else.”
And you can read the whole post here.
Best. Dad. Ever.
Not only is Cornelius an amazing dad for saying what he did, but he’s also a social worker, so he knows all about working with fellow parents who have children with special needs.
People listened, and notes to Christopher started pouring in, as CBS New York reports—from the NYPD to people in Argentina and Australia.
Here’s an example of one such note:
“Hi Christopher. My name is Reese. I’m in 6th grade too. I also like pizza! We can be friends if you want.”
Others made videos featuring children offering to be Christopher’s friend. Aww!
“This is humbling. This over overwhelming,” Cornelius said. “It makes me feel grateful — grateful to people that have the kindness to reach out to a boy.”
However, Cornelius also wanted to remind people about the purpose of his original message. Recently, he added this onto his Facebook post:
“Many of you have asked to send cards and packages to Christopher. While this is very kind, and, frankly, I thought this card shower was going to be limited to Kansas City, it is not what the original message was about. However, many of you that have sent messages through Facebook have made it clear that a lot of children want to write to Chistopher, send him drawimgs and tell him that he has a friend out there. This is a kind act. This is a selfless act, motivated, primarily by empathy, I would imagine. And that IS what the message is about.”
If you’d like to send a letter to Christopher Cornelius, you can do so here: 96 Valley View Drive, Rockaway, NJ 07866
He sounds like a special kid with a pretty sweet dad.