This photo is heartbreaking. How can we prevent future moments like this?

I only have a few minutes to write this, but I didn't want to wait. Today I read the story of Hallee Sorenson who celebrated her 18th birthday...all alone. Hallee lives in Bangor Maine with her mom Allyson who took this photo of Hallee crying into her cake after no one came to her party. 

Hallee has autism which makes her socially awkward to her peers, so her attempts at friendship haven't gone so well at her school. Still she invited every member of her senior class. Her mom said "People think that kids like Halle don't want to be included, they don't want to be invited places or have a party, but that's not true and she was devastated."

The way we can prevent heartbreaking moments like this in the future is to teach our own children that all people want and deserve friendship. Especially people who are not popular! If kids learn how to develop relationships with people they don't have a lot in common with, future generations will fare far better than ours. Autism rates are skyrocketing! It's now 1 in 68 kids. That's millions of people over the next decade that will be put on the sidelines of life unless society learns how to include them. These kids have lots they can contribute, but like any of us who are lonely, or isolated, they can become very depressed. 

After the picture of Hallee was posted online by her cousin, it went viral. Thousands of people have pledged to send her cards and gifts. All of those things are nice. But what Hallee and other people on the autism spectrum would really like is someone to sit with them at their party, listen to their dreams, and be their friend. See they're really not that different after all.