When No One Showed Up to Autistic Boy’s Birthday Party, Strangers Saved the Day

Glenn Buratti celebrates his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)

When no one showed up to her autistic son’s birthday party, Ashlee Buratti posted an emotional message on her Facebook page. Within an hour, strangers showed up to save the day.

Glenn Buratti invited all 16 of his kindergarten classmates from a Florida elementary school to his sixth birthday party last weekend. Ashlee, Glenn’s mom, said not a single student responded to the invite.

“He was so devastated when he realized no one was coming to his birthday party that he refused to smile,” Buratti told ABC News today. “He tried to hide the fact that he was crying by pinching the bridge of his nose.”

“I know this might be something silly to rant about, but my heart is breaking for my son,” Ashlee wrote to the Facebook group “Osceola Rants, Raves and Reviews List,” which has more than 10,000 members. “He keeps asking ‘when will my friends get here?’”

The post quickly went viral — And then the guests arrived.

First, the owner of a local pet show and her family showed up, Ashlee Buratti said. They brought with them a gift for Glenn and stayed for hot dogs and cake. Soon after, half a dozen families had stopped by to help the little boy celebrate his big day.

As the house filled up, Glenn’s smile grew, Ashlee said.

Someone from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department also saw the post. They sent a helicopter to join in the celebration.

The local Sheriff's department helps Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)
The local Sheriff’s department helps Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)

 

It circled over their house for twenty minutes, swooping low again and again to make sure everyone knew it was for Glenn’s birthday, Buratti said.

Later in the week, the department sent over police cars, fire trucks, a SWAT van and a canine unit.

The local Sheriff's department arranged for a helicopter fly by to help Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)
The local Sheriff’s department arranged for a helicopter fly by to help Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)

 

“At first he was scared and got a little upset but when I explained it was all for him, he just loved it,” Buratti said.

Buratti said her son, who is mildly autistic and also has epilepsy, sometimes experiences social anxiety and has difficulty managing his behavior when in groups.

“It can be tough for kids with autism to make friends,” said Wendy Fournier, president of National Autism Association. “They can have trouble making eye contact and communicating and there is sometimes a processing delay so their conversations don‘t always flow.”

Though not a single parent has yet to offer an apology or explanation for the no-shows, Buratti said she is not upset with anyone. But she hopes people keep in mind what it takes to put together a birthday party and what it means for a child to have someone attend.

Though not one parent has offered an apology or explanation for the no-shows

“When you are thinking about something as simple as a birthday party, think about the child who is sitting there waiting for his friends to show up,” she said.

Local firefighters showed up to help Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)
Local firefighters showed up to help Glenn Buratti celebrate his sixth birthday. (Photo: ABC News/Ashlee Nighswonger)

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