ROCKAWAY, N.J. (Morris County) – A father’s Facebook post about his 11-year-old autistic son struggling to make friends in school has led to an outpouring of community support.
Bob Cornelius of Rockaway, N.J. shared his emotional post after attending his son’s back-to-school night last Thursday.
“My youngest son, Christopher, is on the autistic spectrum. I went to his back to school night on Thursday and took a picture of one of his projects displayed on the wall, one of many cute little cards that all the kids in his class had filled out. It asked him to list his favorite foods, sport, TV shows etc,” Cornelius said.
Including this question: Some of my friends are? Christopher wrote: “No one.”
The father went to social media to try and have parents educate their children about kids with special needs.
“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,” Cornelius said.
Christopher’s brothers have had many, many sleepovers over the years, obviously in front of him, and it has not gone unnoticed. Christopher has asked his father for a sleepover but when his father asked with whom? Christopher 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,” Cornelius said.
“I not so naive that I think this post is going to change the world. But, if, by sharing this, I can make you think about having a conversation with your children about empathy, about going out of their way to include those that are different from everybody else, especially if it goes against the group mentality, especially if it’s not socially poplar, then I will feel like Christopher’s voice has been heard,” Cornelius said.
Christopher’s father said that many people have asked to send cards and packages to his son. If you would like to send Christopher a card or package, you may write to him at: Christopher Cornelius 96 Valley View Drive Rockaway, NJ 07866.
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