ROCKWAY, N.J. – A New Jersey father is speaking out after what was supposed to be a fun project in his son’s class turned into heartbreak.
Bob Cornelius took to Facebook after heading to his son’s back-to-school night and saw a project about his son’s favorite things.
Cornelius snapped a picture of it, but really got to reading it when he got home.
His son, Christopher, wrote about his family, his favorite foods and what he wants to be when he grows up. But when it came to listing his friends, he wrote, “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 says that Christopher has autism and struggles in social situations, even though he is funny and smart.
He says that Christopher’s fellow students tend to exclude him.
“And it’s not their fault…. that’s the saddest part. They were clearly not taught to embrace and accept the differences of others. Not by their teachers, which would have been nice, had they thought to do so, but by their parents. I don’t mean to imply that parents that don’t have this conversation with their kids are bad people, but only that somewhere in between working, soccer practice, and homework, it never occurred to them to have this particular conversation. I’m sure that if Christopher were typical (that’s the word we use instead of “normal” in our world of ‘Holland’, for our developmentally delayed children), I would have not had this conversation with him either.
Christopher’s brothers have had many, many sleepovers over the years, obviously in front of him, and it has not gone unnoticed.
“Can I have sleepover?” Christopher has asked.
“Sure, buddy….with whom?” As a response, he would flap his arms and stim instead of answering. He didn’t have an answer because he didn’t have a name.
Because he didn’t have a friend. He’s never had a friend. Ever. He just turned eleven. And because he’s had no friends….there was no one to invite,” he wrote.
His post has received over 25,000 shares and he has gotten 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.