The first day of school naturally comes with a mix of excitement and nerves, but for an 8-year-old Kansas boy living with autism, starting a new school year was very overwhelming.
Connor Crites was starting second grade at Minneha Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas. But rather than playing with friends or exploring the playground, Connor was tucked into a corner, crying.
Children with autism often struggle to process new situations, and with all the excitement and stimulation of the first day of school, Connor simply became overwhelmed.
But 8-year-old Christian, also starting second grade, took notice of the sad boy, crying by himself.
Without a word, Christian walked over to Connor and took his hand.
Connor, still visibly upset, clung to his new friend’s hand and walked with him into the school.
Courtney Moore, Christian’s mother, witnessed the scene and snapped a quick photo of the boys, strangers who had become friends, holding hands.
“I saw him on the ground with Connor as Connor was crying in the corner and he was consoling him. He grabs his hand and walks him to the front door. We waited until the bell rang and he walked him inside of the school. The rest is history. They have an inseparable bond,” Moore told KAKE-TV.
Moore posted the photo on Facebook and wrote, “Blessings come in many forms and God enables us to be a vessel of love!!”
When April Crites, Connor’s mother, saw the photo, she was moved to tears. While heartbroken over her son’s visible sorrow, she was greatly encouraged knowing that a kid like Christian was in her son’s corner.
“I fear every day that someone is going to laugh at him because he doesn’t speak correctly, or laugh at him because he doesn’t sit still or because he jumps up and down and flaps his hands,” Crites told KAKE-TV.
But neither boy was concerned with their differences, they were simply content to be friends.
The lesson is a powerful one that both mothers hope resonates with a larger audience.
“It doesn’t matter color, it doesn’t matter gender, it doesn’t matter disability and it doesn’t matter anything, just be kind, open your heart. It’s what we need in this world,” Crites said.
The boys have a simple message for the world: “Be nice!” they chimed in together.
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