Christopher Cornelius is an autistic child living in New Jersey. At school he was asked to do a homework by completing some personal questions. Under the heading “your friends are”, he replied “no one”.
When his dad Bob saw the task, he photographed it. Only then did he notice what his son wrote. So he decided to publish the letter on Facebook and write a long post that immediately became viral.
Bob’s is not an outburst of anger, but a sad reflection on what happens to his child, a discomfort that he had never fully realised before.
“As far as I know, (save for one time), Christopher’s classmates have never been overtly cruel to him,” he wrote in a post that has gone viral with more than 11,000 shares. “What they have done, however, is to exclude him.”
Cornelius just wished his son would find a friend – anyone, really. His son, who isn’t too verbal, has a hard time expressing himself. “He can’t talk about his feelings or anything too superficial,” Cornelius said. But Christopher knows when he’s not being included, and Cornelius knows it bothers him.
“One thing I have learned from my son, from special needs kids, is that they understand a heck of a lot more than we give them credit for,” Cornelius said. At the end of the day it comes down to empathy, Cornelius told parents.
“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 pleaded in his Facebook post. “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.”