A Dad Turns An Unfortunate Answer From His Son With Autism Into A Viral Lesson About Friendship

“Never have five letters cut so deep."

When Bob Cornelius of New Jersey snapped a photo of a project created by his son Christopher, he didn't realize at first that one of the answers on the worksheet was really a profound cry for help.

The project asked Christopher to name his friends. His response: "No One."

"Christopher has autism, and although he is verbal, he is very surface-oriented," Cornelius told Inside Edition. "It's tough to speak with him when it comes to emotion, but this was his way of communicating that he's lonely."

Cornelius remembers granting his son permission to invite friends to their house for a sleepover, but Christopher couldn't name a single friend to call.

Last week, Cornelius shared his son's school project on Facebook with the hopes that it might spark some type of compassion and persuade other parents to teach their children to be friendlier to students with special needs.

"It has to start at home," Cornelius told CBS News. "Us parents need to teach our kids."

In his Facebook post, Cornelius referenced the viral photo of a Florida State football player kindly sitting at a lunch table next to a lonely child with autism. He wants these types of moments to be "the norm, not the newsworthy exception."

"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 on Facebook. "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."

As of September 26, his Facebook post received more than 50,000 shares.


It seems that Cornelius' viral Facebook post is already having a profound impact. Four high schools in Kansas City are reportedly using the Facebook post in lessons about compassion. And a video surfaced of two boys pledging to be Christopher's friend.

As an update to this Facebook post, Cornelius wrote that strangers expressed an interest in sending cards and packages to Christopher, who, he suspected, had received thousands of cards and gifts.


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