Can you imagine the devastating feeling of learning that your child has no friends at school? That they spend lunch time and recess by themselves? That they have no one to invite to their birthday party?
That is exactly what happened to Bob Cornelius when he attended a parent-night at his autistic son’s school.
While reading a project on display completed by his son Christopher, Bob read the heartbreaking words written in response to “Some of my friends are…” Christopher 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,” Bob wrote on Facebook. “And I don’t have a solution. I don’t have an answer. The reality is that I have to rely on the compassion of others to be incredibly understanding in order just to sit next to him, attempt to engage him, and make him feel included.”
While Bob has realized that his 11-year-old doesn’t have many friends, especially when his lack of pals is starkly contrasted with his older brothers’ numerous sleepovers, Bob didn’t know that Christopher understood this difference. While he doesn’t blame his son’s classmates for leaving him out, he is still devastated by the fact that his son doesn’t have a friend and has never had a friend, and he is absolutely aware of this divide.“And it’s not their fault . . . that’s the saddest part. They were clearly not taught to embrace and accept the differences of others. Not by their teachers, which would have been nice, had they thought to do so, but by their parents. 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. I’m sure that if Christopher were typical (that’s the word we use instead of ‘normal’… ), I would not have had this conversation with him either.”
I hate this! It breaks my heart.
As a mother, there is nothing I want more for my children than for them to learn to exude Christ’s love to everyone they meet. We have to talk to our children about what it looks like to reach out to those who are different and show them the love of Christ. We must teach them to always be watching out for those who need an extra helping hand or need a friend.
And most importantly, we must model this kind of awareness and love to them on a daily basis.