Boy with autism's heartbreaking school assignment lists his friends as 'no one'

A devoted father who took a photo of his son's class assignment later noticed the boy, who has autism, had written that he had no friends.

Bob Cornelius shared a photo of the work to Facebook in an effort to start a conversation about children with autism and why children should have more empathy for those with special needs.

In the school project, children were asked to describe a few facts about themselves, including their age, grade, favorite food and television show.

Cornelius took a few photos of his son's classwork and quickly sat in his seat without noticing the details of the project, but once he returned to his New Jersey home, he enlarged the photo on his cell phone and took a quick look at what 11-year-old, Christopher, had written.

The assignment had also asked the students to name some of his or her friends. Christopher wrote: "No one."

"I couldn't sleep when I saw it," Cornelius told on Friday. "I was up all night."

Cornelius' heartbreak prompted him to post on Facebook.

"Christopher has autism and although he is verbal, he is very surface-oriented," he said. "It's tough to speak with him when it comes to emotion but this was his way of communicating that he's lonely."

The photo of Christopher's project went viral and Cornelius soon received positive messages and feedback from social media users.

Along with messages of hope, Cornelius also received an encouraging response from two hosts on a local talk radio show that helped him spread awareness about children living with autism.

"The KMBZ radio hosts, Dana Wright and Scott Parks, came up with the idea for people to send him letters," Cornelius said. "He doesn't know what's going on at the moment, but as of now we have about six packages waiting just for Christopher."

Cornelius also referenced a Florida State football player who was pictured sitting with a child with autism after seeing him alone.

Cornelius said that this goes beyond autism and all students should not feel excluded from their classmates and peers.

"There has to be a conversation with the families about children being empathetic to others," said Cornelius. "It starts at home."