ROCKWAY, N.J. – A New Jersey father who recently attended his son’s back-to-school night posted a photo on Facebook that many people are calling heartbreaking.
Bob Cornelius prefaces the Facebook post by explaining that his son Christopher has autism.
When he went to Christopher’s back-to-school night, he saw a project his son completed in class. His son was asked to list his favorite food, sports, television shows, etc.
Cornelius took a picture of it before reading the entire thing, but when he got home and looked back at the picture, something very sad stood out to him.
Christopher was supposed to write who his friends are, and his response was “No one.”
“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,” Cornelius writes. “And because I know him so well, and because I have pretty good handle on him after raising him for eleven years, I know this disconnect makes him feel lonely, and it makes him sad.”
Cornelius referenced the story from a few weeks ago when a Florida State player sat down next to a boy in the lunchroom who was eating alone. The boy in that story also had autism, and the reason it was so popular was because it’s unusual.
“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,” Cornelius writes.
Cornelius hopes this post inspires parents to have a conversation with their children about other children with special needs.
“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. Trust me when I tell you this hurts them. Even if it’s not obvious to you and me,” Cornelius writes.
Cornelius posted the photo on Facebook several days ago, and it has received nearly 24,000 shares.
Since the story went viral, Cornelius has received requests from people who want to send Christopher a card.
If you would like to send Christopher a friendly note, you can mail it to:
96 Valley View Drive
Rockaway NJ 7866.