The absence of close friendships and the feeling of being singled out can be a challenging experience. As social beings, it is natural for us to search for companionship and the sense of belonging that comes with having friends.
Shayden Walker, an 11-year-old boy from Amarillo, Texas, went on a search for companionship and formed numerous new friendships with people worldwide. On July 3, Shayden approached his neighbor’s house and conversed using the family’s front door security camera.
Shayden expressed his search for companionship in the video, specifically seeking out children around 11 or 12. He emphasized his strong desire for companionship.
However, when his neighbor Brennan Ray mentioned the availability of some kids nearby, Shayden explained that they were no longer his friends as he felt singled out and mistreated by them.
Following their brief discussion, Shayden and Brennan discussed the possibility of him having children of his own whom Shayden could play with. However, he informed Shayden that his daughter was just a toddler.
Moved by their interaction, Brennan decided to share the video on TikTok to reach out to Shayden’s family and garner support.
In the caption, Brennan highlighted the importance of engaging in conversation with others to understand the challenges they may be facing.
He described Shayden as a well-mannered, kind, and brave young man and appealed to the TikTok community to help Shayden find new friends.
“I figured I could post it, and some local people would see it and help me connect to them,” he said.
However, the post surpassed his expectations, garnering nearly 70 million views and gaining widespread attention.
Shayden faces difficulties forming connections with others due to many diagnoses, including autism, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and others, as explained by his mother, Krishna Patterson.
Krishna emphasized the significance of understanding that these mental health conditions can contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness, affecting children and adults.
She explained that her son has faced challenges maintaining friendships and sometimes experiences “meltdowns,” which involve crying and unintentionally hurting himself and others when people try to calm him down.
Shayden has also been singled out, including an incident while playing tag with a neighbor. The situation escalated, and the neighbor resorted to name-calling, as recounted by Shayden in an interview with USA TODAY.
Patterson expressed her concerns about Shayden being manipulated and harassed, noting that when he has meltdowns, some people are reluctant to have their children associate with him.
Shayden’s visit to the Rays’ house was driven by his strong need for new friends.
“I just really wanted to get to know these people,” he said.
Shayden recalled the Rays because their dog had wandered into his family’s yard some months ago. Shayden’s family had returned the dog to them, and during that encounter, Shayden perceived them as wonderful people.
After his recent visit to the Rays’ house and his incredible support from countless compassionate individuals, Shayden shared that he now feels a sense of positivity.
His search for companionship has formed new friendships and connected him with people worldwide, including Hawaii, China, Australia, and England.
Initially, Krishna had concerns that the video might subject Shayden to further ridicule.
“When that didn’t happen, the relief that washed over me and the pure joy that people actually were showing compassion was huge,” she said.
Upon sharing the TikTok video, people suggested doing something special for Shayden. In response, Brennan and his wife started a GoFundMe campaign.
Remarkably, the campaign raised over $37,000 to support Shayden in pursuing his desires, such as acquiring a gaming setup, school clothes, and amusement park tickets.
Shayden expressed his intention to donate some of the funds to tornado relief groups, the war in Ukraine, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Additionally, the family plans to go on a vacation, as Shayden has not experienced one since he was a toddler.
Recognizing the outpouring of support for Shayden’s search for companionship, Krishna decided to close the GoFundMe campaign in less than 30 hours of its creation.
She wanted to ensure that people did not spend their hard-earned money unnecessarily.
She also emphasized Shayden’s desire for those who have been mistreated, as well as those who have engaged in harassing behavior, to reach out to him.
She explained that individuals who resort to bullying often carry unexpressed pain, and their actions can be an outlet for their suffering.
Shayden, having experienced mistreatment from others, possesses a deep understanding of the impact of ridicule and the potential for lashing out.
Brennan’s video has generated support for Shayden and delivered a powerful message of kindness and acceptance.
He emphasizes giving everyone a chance, as one never knows the internal battles individuals may face.
He acknowledges that Shayden, being on the spectrum, may find it more challenging to connect with peers his age, underscoring the significance of empathy and understanding.
“He is a beautiful soul,” he said. “His happiness is infectious, and his smile is infectious. He’s a good kid.”
Watch Shayden’s adorable but heart melting video below: