The next time 11-year-old Christopher Cornelius has to write the names of his friends, he’ll need a few pages to list them all.
Christopher’s father Bob posted to Facebook when his son, who is autistic, wrote on a worksheet at school that his friends were ‘no one’.
Since the post, which was shared nearly 50,000 times, Christopher has received a slew of packages and cards in the mail.
Along with hundreds of cards and packages, local organizations like local fire departments and police forces have stopped by to play with Christopher.
The Birchwood Fire Company stopped by and gave Christopher some patches and clothing.
Union County Sheriff’s Office also made a stop by the Cornelius household to see Christopher.
Bob wrote on Facebook: ‘I’d like to thank the kind officer from the Union County Sheriff’s Office for stopping by today to give Christopher some patches and to offer to play soccer with him.
‘As he was in full uniform, I asked him if he was on his way to work.
He said, no…it’s just that kids like the uniform.’
He also said he’s received numerous messages on Facebook from people who have had similar experiences with autistic family members.
Bob first saw Christopher’s heart-breaking worksheet when he visited his son’s classroom during back-to-school night last week.
He took a picture of what he thought was a cute worksheet.
It was only when Bob returned home that he read his son’s handwriting, and was devastated by the sight of two words.
Nestled between his favorite television show and food was the question ‘Some of my friends are’. Christopher had simply written: ‘No one’.
Never have five letters cut so deep, and they weren’t even directed at me,’ Bob wrote in a lengthy Facebook post next to the picture of Christopher’s worksheet.
‘It was just an overly simplistic statement that spoke volumes.’
It was then that Bob realized just how lonely his son was, and how sad he was that he had no friends.
‘Usually, I have to figure out what Christopher is trying to say, as his manner of speaking is very straightforward; very black and white,’ Bob wrote.
‘This time I did not. It’s clear to me that he desperately wants to be part of the group, but his challenges make it difficult for his peers to include him.’
Bob wrote that he knew he didn’t have an easy solution to his son’s loneliness, a quick cure to make the pain go away.
‘The reality is that I have to rely on the compassion of others to be incredibly understanding in order just to sit next to him, engage him, and make him feel included,’ he wrote.
It was a situation that reminded Bob of a recent viral story, when Florida State football player Travis Rudolph ate lunch with an autistic boy who was sitting by himself.
Rudolph was visiting a Tallahassee middle school when he spotted sixth grader Bo Paske eating alone in the cafeteria, and decided to sit next to him.
A teacher snapped a picture of the sweet moment and it was later revealed that Rudolph had since inspired other children to eat with Bo every day.
‘If that football player had not sat down next to that child, and if it hadn’t become a national news story, that kid would still be sitting by himself today,’ Bob wrote.
‘And it’s not their fault…. that’s the saddest part,’ he continued. ‘They were clearly not taught to embrace and accept the differences of others.’
Bob then admitted that if Christopher was not on the autism spectrum, he would be like the many other parents who never teach this lesson to their 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,’ he wrote.
‘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. But mostly they are very much in tune when they are treated differently from everyone else.’
‘Trust me when I tell you this hurts them. Even if it’s not obvious to you and me.’
Source: Daily Mail