For anyone with or who knows someone with Autism, they know how much harder certain aspects of their lives can be. One of the most challenging is the social side of life. For people with Autism, especially severe forms, making friends can be quite challenging. This is what broke this boy’s parents when he wrote out that one of his wishes was to make friends. For his birthday, his dad decided to try and make that wish come true. This is what happened.
One night near their son Daniel’s birthday, his dad Kevin Harrison and mom Catherine were reading over his education, health, and care plan (EHCP). This is part of a UK government program to determine the level of support needed for people with special needs. They receive this report because Daniel has severe Autism. (1) In the report, there is a section for Daniel to write down things that are important to him or things that he would like to do. In this section, he said he wanted to drive a car and make friends. It was the second wish that broke his parents’ hearts.
Kevin explained that Daniel is on the more severe end of the Autism spectrum. He is verbal, however, he only gives standard responses. Communication is tough and engaging in conversations with others is even harder. For most of his life, he has preferred to play alone and hasn’t shown much interest in making friends. Apparently, however, that has changed. It was coming up to Daniel’s 15th birthday and Kevin wanted to make him feel special. He posted on Twitter explaining his son’s situation and what one of his wishes was. Then, he asked the people of Twitter to help him make his son feel special on his birthday – to make his son feel loved.
“Daniel’s my son. Profoundly Autistic,” he wrote. “Hasn’t one friend. It’s his birthday today. In his ECHP he wrote that his two wishes were to learn to drive and make friends. Please wish him a happy birthday. Please show him you care. Please share.” Kevin expected maybe a few responses from his followers who knew him and his son. He did not expect thousands of people from around the world – including some pretty famous and influential ones – to send their best wishes. He and Catherine were completely shocked. The Tweet began collecting likes, shares, and replies until it was the number one trending topic on Twitter in the United States. Much of that reach came from one rather famous person in particular.
That’s right, none other than Mark Hamill from Star Wars saw the tweet and responded. He was one of the first celebrities to respond, and his tweet alone collected 17,000 likes. The Luke Skywalker actor wrote:More celebrities joined in on the Twitter party, giving the message an even greater reach. Celebrity responders included Russel Crowe, Sharon Stone, and Ariel Winter. Beyond celebrities, many of the thousands upon thousands of responses were from other parents of children with Autism. Their message was simple: Daniel is not alone and does have friends all over the country and the world.