‘Never Have Five Letters Cut So Deep’: Man Takes Heartbreaking Photo at Son’s School

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ROCKWAY, N.J. – A New Jersey father who recently attended his son’s back-to-school night posted a photo on Facebook that many people are calling heartbreaking.

Bob Cornelius prefaces the Facebook post by explaining that his son Christopher is on the autistic spectrum.

When he went to Christopher’s back-to-school night, he saw a project his son completed in class. His son was asked to list his favorite food, sports, television shows, etc.

Cornelius took a picture of it before reading the entire thing, but when he got home and looked back at the picture, something very sad stood out to him.

Christopher was supposed to write who his friends are, and his response was “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,” Cornelius writes. “And because I know him so well, and because I have pretty good handle on him after raising him for eleven years, I know this disconnect makes him feel lonely, and it makes him sad.”

Cornelius referenced the story from a few weeks ago when a Florida State player sat down next to a boy in the lunchroom who was eating alone. The boy in that story also had autism, and the reason it was so popular was because it’s unusual.

“If that football player had not sat down next to that child, and if it hadn’t become a national news story, that kid would still be sitting by himself today,” Cornelius writes.

Cornelius hopes this post inspires parents to have a conversation with their children about other children with special needs.

“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. Trust me when I tell you this hurts them. Even if it’s not obvious to you and me,” Cornelius writes.

Cornelius posted the photo on Facebook several days ago, and it has received nearly 24,000 shares.

Since the story went viral, Cornelius has received requests from people who want to send Christopher a card.

If you would like to send Christopher a friendly note, you can mail it to:

Christopher Cornelius
96 Valley View Drive
Rockaway NJ 7866.


  • Rayna Kenyon

    I have a 12 year son who is on the Autism Spectrum. He is the most kindest person you could ever meet. He has a heart of gold and is such a delight. He has many interests, his favorite being Origami and crafts of almost any kind. But one wouldn’t know that unless they took the time to look past his social awkwardness and quirkiness and ACCEPT that as a part of him instead of seeing that as who he is. Because he and others on the spectrum as well as any special needs child are so much more than the diagnosis they were labeled with. Every person on this earth has their own uniqueness that’s what makes us each an individual. Learning to accept the differences as that would be a great start as well as educating our children at an early age preferably starting with the parents before their child(ren) begin school. And continue with teachers stepping in to do their part. Education isn’t just about learning how to read or do math. It’s also about being aware and having compassion for those that may be different than yourself. So no child no matter what their disability or difference may be doesn’t ever sit alone at lunch or fill in the two words “no one” on paper that asked for names of his/ her friends.

  • westwinddt

    My so is on the spectrum and it took time It was tough. But he is a senior in high school now and we were able to find an academic program in my county that meets his needs and kids seemed more accepting. It is an advanced program where character is also taken very seriously. My daughter tends to seek out those who are “different” in school because she is so used to her older brother. One of her friends opened up to last year and asked her why she worked with him in class – you remind me of my brother and it is really no big deal. This boy is on the spectrum and is happy to have a friend. My daughter has been bulled badly because she includes special needs students in part because of her brother and a special boy she went through elementary school with. Please, encourage your children to be friends with those who are different. It enriches everyone

  • Amanda Lynn

    My son is on the spectrum and I know this all to well. His birthday is next week and he wanted a skyzone party. When I said he needed 10 friends to attend he started crying, he only has one, also SN. Another year of a birthday gone by with no party, it was too overwhelming for him. My family and I are taking him away for the day instead. It’s sad that this is the reality our kids live, and they know it. They know they are different, but can’t change it, it’s who they are. Honestly, I wouldn’t change my son for the world. He is the most caring person you will ever meet. He does fundraisers for Heifer International because he is worried about kids who don’t have food, he keeps money in his wallet and gives it to the veterans outside of walmart without me prompting him at all. He is so empathetic to others, yet kids his age don’t include him. It is very sad. Parents of NT kids, I implore you to teach your children acceptance. Acceptance of everyone as all people are unique. Teach them to think about more than themselves by asking the simple question “how would i feel if that was me sitting alone?” It’s up to us as parents to teach our kids inclusion and non judgment. Meanwhile, I’ll keep teaching mine that autism is NOT an excuse and keep pushing him to grow and accept himself. Quirks and all.

  • Another parent

    I understand his heart break. My son is on the autisim spectrum, and has been harassed by kids every year. We ended up sending him to a school for kids with learning and emotional/behavioral issues, but now he gets harassed by the kids with behavioral issues daily. Every day he comes home upset from them telling him they will “beat his a$&” people don’t teach their kids decency anymore.

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