A photo of a Kansas second grader consoling his autistic classmate on the first day of school has gone viral, offering a respite from the culture wars.
The photo captures 8-year-old Christian holding hands with his classmate, Conner, who is also 8. The boys were waiting for the doors of Minneha Elementary School in Wichita to open on Aug. 14, when Conner, who has autism, started to cry.
Courtney Moore, Christian’s mom, took the photo and shared it on Facebook the same day along with a moving caption.
“I’m so proud of my son, he seen a kid balled up into a corner crying, so he went to console him, grabbed his hand and walked him inside of the school,” she wrote. “It is an honor to raise such a loving, compassionate child! He’s a kid with a Big heart, the first day of school started off right.”
I’m so proud of my son, he seen a kid balled up into a corner crying, so he went to console him, grabbed his hand and…
The meaning of a photo of an autistic boy
A few days later, Conner’s mother, April Crites, saw the Facebook post and expressed her gratitude in a comment.
“Tell your son I said thank you so very much,” she wrote. “That little boy he helped is my son and is autistic, I worry everyday that he is going to get bullied for being different and your son just absolutely warmed my heart. If there were more children like him I wouldn’t worry about such things.”
Moore responded, revealing that Christian too struggles with his speech. She said both boys were unique.
“I hope that this will be the beginning of a new friendship for both of our sons,” Moore wrote. “Your son was so sweet.”
Crites told the Washington Post on Wednesday that the boys had been in classes together before this year, but did not know each other well. Now, she said, they’re inseparable.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on Twitter, partisans were fiercely debating the activism of another autistic child, 16-year-old climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.