School closings

‘Never have 5 letters cut so deep’: Father shares heartbreaking photo of son’s project

ROCKAWAY, N.J. — The father of a New Jersey boy with autism says he’s “humbled and grateful” for messages of support after his Facebook post lamenting his son’s lack of friends went viral.

Bob Cornelius shared a picture of a school worksheet Monday on which his 11-year-old son put down “no one” when asked to list some of his friends.

Cornelius writes that he hopes by sharing the picture and his son’s story parents will let their children know that kids with special needs “notice when others exclude them” and “are very much in tune when they are treated differently from everyone else.”

He says:

“As far as I know, (save for one time), Christopher’s classmates have never been overtly cruel to him. What they have done, however, is to exclude him. And frankly, I understand this. His classmates are delayed as well, but most not as much as Christopher. They are figuring out how to interact socially every day, and because Christopher cannot engage them in a typical way, he gets left behind…excluded.

Until Thursday, I didn’t know how aware he was of this divide, as he does not often talk about his peers. I should not have been surprised as he makes his wants (but not his emotional needs) very clear….but I was. Mostly, I suppose, because I had never seen him put in down on paper. For the first time, it was staring at me in the face.

I guess I’m sharing this because when asked to list 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.”

The post has been shared more than 22,000 times as of Friday morning, and Cornelius writes that he’s been inundated with messages of support for his son.