PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A New Jersey father was heartbroken last week to see the two word answer scrawled on his son’s class project.
On a sheet of paper, students were asked to list their favorite food, TV show, what they want to be when they grow up, etc.
His 11-year-old son Christopher, asked to fill out who some of his friends are, wrote “No one.”
The father took to Facebook, to send a message about his youngest child, who is on the autism spectrum.
“As far as I know, (save for one time), Christopher’s classmates have never been overtly cruel to him,” Bob Cornelius wrote in a post that has now gone viral. “What they have done, however, is to exclude him.”
“The irony is — I didn’t have a solution for myself,” Cornelius told CBS News. That’s why he turned to Facebook to vent his frustration, and open up an important conversation that parents need to be a part of.
“It has to start at home,” Cornelius said. “Us parents need to teach our kids.”
Christopher just started middle school and is still working to adapt to his new surroundings. The 11-year-old isn’t very verbal and reportedly has a hard time expressing himself.
Cornelius told parents that it comes down to empathy.
“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 pleaded in his Facebook post. “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 (a lot of times “behind their back” is right in front of them because they think the ‘different’ child doesn’t understand). But mostly they are very much in tune when they are treated differently from everyone else.”