ROCKAWAY, N.J. – People around the country are responding to a dad’s plea for help after seeing his son’s loneliness highlighted on one of his class assignments.
Bob Cornelius of Rockaway, New Jersey visited his 11-year-old son’s open house night, where he saw some of his son’s work posted on a bulletin board. Cornelius took a photo and didn’t notice anything was off, until he took a closer look later that night.
Christopher has autism, which Cornelius said makes it hard for Christopher to make friends.
Under a question that asked students to list some of their friends, Christoper wrote, “No one.” Cornelius said those words were “like a gut punch.”
“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,” wrote Cornelius. “And because I know him so well, and because I have a pretty good handle on him after raising him for eleven years, I know this disconnect makes him feel lonely.”
Cornelius doesn’t blame Christoper’s fellow classmates for excluding him, noting that those kids are also developing their social skills. Instead he asked fellow parents to encourage their kids to befriend classmates who may seem different.
“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,” wrote Cornelius.
Cornelius said even just one friend would help his son tremendously.
“And the child that will finally reach out to him, that will help him, that will include him, will be the kindest child, the child that does the right thing by going above and beyond,” wrote Cornelius. “He will be Charlie Bucket.”
Since posting the story Monday, it has been shared more than 22,000 times.
Cornelius says hundreds of people have reached out, wanting so send cards and care packages to Christopher.
If you would like to reach out to Christopher, you may address letters and care packages to: 96 Valley View Drive Rockaway NJ 7866