A 15-year-old boy with autism had a simple wish for his birthday. He revealed that he wanted to learn to drive a car and to make friends. The second wish surprised his parents since he has yet to understand the concept of friendship as someone under the autism spectrum.
Kevin Harrison, the dad of Daniel Harrison, hoped to give his son the best birthday presents ever, so he posted a simple request on Twitter. He wrote that Daniel has "not one friend" and asked the public to wish him a happy birthday to show his son that people care for him.
The dad's tweet immediately went viral and attracted thousands of posts, retweets, and likes from strangers who offered to be friends with his son. As of press time, more than 122,000 people have "liked" the post that has been viewed by 14 million.
Daniel’s my son. Profoundly Autistic. 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. ##happybirthday #autism #rt pic.twitter.com/Psu97TSj6g— Kev & Daniel (@kevharrison_) September 29, 2021
Mind-Blowing Response from the Public
Kevin, 52, said that the response from strangers had been "mind-blowing" after he and his wife, Catherine Harrison, were heartbroken to read their son's birthday wishes. Daniel had written his birthday wish as part of his education, health and care (EHC) plan, a U.K. government program that helps kids with special needs.
The dad said that while his son has been to the playgrounds, he could not interact with people as he is withdrawn in his own world. Daniel's autism is considered severe, and he could not carry everyday conversations, even with his family. However, his dad said that he is a "lovely, kind, sweet boy" who doesn't have a mean bone in his body, which would make him a dear friend if he only knew what this means.
In an interview with CBS News, Kevin said that he and Catherine were shocked to see what he wrote in his EHC plans since it was the first time he expressed an understanding for friendship. Daniel was "jumping up and down" when his father showed him the thousands of birthday wishes from around the world.
Some greetings were from famous people like "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill, "Star Trek" actor William Shatner, activist Erin Brockovich, and celebrities like Russell Crowe, Sharon Stone, and Ariel Winter.
For my friend Daniel: 🎂 pic.twitter.com/gBIzuEb9Sk— Mark Hamill (Mar🐫) (@HamillHimself) September 29, 2021
Families of Special Needs Respond, Too
Along with the birthday greetings, Kevin's post also drew responses from family members of special needs kids. One parent wrote that his son with autism, who loves to talk exclusively about superheroes, would love to be Daniel's friend. Other parents of children with autism echoed the same sentiment.
Adults who are functioning autistics also reached out to Kevin and Daniel, offering their assurance that life will be better. A teen with autism said that driving was also his goal, and he got his license in August.
Other commenters said they donated or did a good deed in honor of Daniel's birthday to pass along the good vibes.
"If I have reached one person and made them look at another child differently, I've done my job," Kevin said.
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