A US mother has told the BBC of the overwhelming response she has received after tweeting about her lonely 21-year-old autistic son.
Kerry Bloch’s son David has been non-verbal for most of his life but amazed his parents by asking his first question: “Would someone like me?”
She posted the comment on Twitter and received a deluge of heart-warming responses.
Among them was basketball star Joe Ingles who invited David to a game.
Kerry told BBC OS that David’s question had taken her completely by surprise at their home in Neptune Beach, Florida.
“I could tell he was thinking or processing something. He then just looks at me and goes: ‘Would someone like me?’
“I was flabbergasted. That’s the first question he has ever said to me. I left the room because I had to cry. I didn’t want David to think I was upset.”
Kerry says she told David she was sure there were “thousands of people out there” who would like him, adding: “You’re a wonderful boy.”
She then logged on to Twitter and shared what had happened, with a picture of David.
“I sent it and didn’t think anything about it. I’m not very computer-literate or internet-literate. My phone just kept making these constant ding ding ding noises. I checked and it was hundreds of notifications coming in.”
David has a rare immunodeficiency and only 20% of his immune system is working, Kerry explained.
He is home-schooled and his exposure to the outdoors is limited, she says.
“He’s never been in school, he hasn’t been allowed to be around children his age,” said Kerry.
“He’s never had a friend because of that so I know he’s lonely, and we’re doing the best we can to get him to have friends somehow. But he’s smart enough to realise he wants a friend and he wants people to like him.”
The thousands of responses include many from parents of other autistic children.
Australian NBA star Joe Ingles, who recently revealed he and his wife Renae have a child with autism, invited David to a Utah Jazz basketball game.
Kerry said messages had also come from the military, fire and police departments and sports groups including David’s favourite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
David was “a changed boy” she told BBC OS.
“He’s been running around the house just smiles. We’ve been trying to read every single message. We’ve been up to four or five in the morning,” she said.
“I’m trying to reply to every single person. David does not want anybody to be left out, he loves everybody. I think he understands what it feels like to be left out so he wants to include everybody and just to tell everybody he loves them.”