Update: Christopher has since received thousands of cards and gifts. View the update here.
A dad has written a heartbreaking open letter to other parents after realising how lonely his autistic son was at school.
Bob Cornelius shared the emotional post on his Facebook page after going to a parents evening at his son’s school and seeing some of his work on the wall.
His 11-year-old son Christopher, who is on the autistic spectrum, had been asked to fill out ‘fascinating facts about himself’, including the names of some of his friends.
But Christopher had simply written: “No one.”
The father took to social media to make a plea to other parents to educate their children about including their peers who might not be ‘typical’ and to display empathy and compassion towards them.
Cornelius wrote: “At the end of the day it comes down to compassion, empathy and understanding. But mostly empathy. Not from you guys, but from your children.”
He explains how his son had previously asked to have a sleepover at home like he had watched his two brothers have, but when asked who he would invite, he didn’t have an answer.
“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,” said Cornelius.
“It’s clear to me that he desperately wants to be part of the group, but his challenges make it difficult for his peers to do so.”
Encouraging parents to share Christopher’s story and educate their children, he concludes: “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…especially if it’s not socially popular, then I will feel like Christopher’s voice has been heard.”