Christian Larsen knows he's just a bit different from the other kids in his elementary school class.
But for his ninth birthday party, the Idaho boy with autism hoped everyone in his class would come. He even passed out extra special invitations.
"I hoped that the classmates would come," the boy told InsideEdition.com Friday. "But they didn't," he said, hanging his head.
But no matter. The entire football team of the local Nampa High School showed up, chanting Christian's name as they filed into his backyard.
The boy keeled over in fake shock. "I pretended to faint," he said. Why? "I felt a little bit weird and wowed," he replied. "And a little bit of excitement."
Christian's mother, Lindsay, was a nervous wreck. "I wasn't sure how Christian would react," she said. She also wasn't sure how the high school seniors would react to Christian, whose attention span is very short and who can sometimes become overwhelmed by what's going on around him.
But he was in heaven with the players. He introduced himself and posed for photos. The team brought him two footballs, one of them autographed by all the athletes.
"I absolutely loved that party," Christian said. He is a total science geek, and he wanted a science-themed party with a cake in the shape of a laboratory beaker — and for all of his "friends" at school to come.
Only one child sent an RSVP. His mother watched with a heavy heart as Christian approached students on the last day of school and asked if they were coming to his summer birthday party. "Most of the kids ignored him completely," she wrote on Facebook, where she poured her heart out over her disappointment.
"We were literally begging them to come," Christian told InsideEdition.com. The child thinks his fellow classmates may have been put off. Maybe they were "disgusted and weirded out," he said, which are very big thoughts for such a small boy.
A friend saw Lindsay's social media post and, unbeknownst to Lindsay, reached out to friend Dan Holtry, who coaches the Nampa High football team. Holtry called Christian's mother and said he'd love to bring over his players.
He "sounded so sincere," Lindsay recounted. "And the players really wanted to come." So she said yes, and hoped for the best.
She got it.
The team walked into the Larsen's backyard chanting Christian's name. "They stayed for the entire party," she said. While Christian opened his presents, the teens "were oohing and ahing ... you would think it was their own birthday party," she said.
They played football with Christian and some neighbor kids who came over. They invited Christian to come see them when football practice begins. "I can't wait to play with them again," Christian says firmly, even though he doesn't know how to play football.
"I see a real relationship (developing) with these boys," said Christian's mother. The team traveled more than 30 minutes to get to her house. "They took a good chunk of their time to come to this party," she said.
Why in the world would members of a high school football team want to come to a stranger's ninth birthday party? "They wanted to give back," Lindsay said. "They were learning not just football, but life lessons."
For a boy with autism mainstreaming in a public school, life lessons can be hard.
"The social part is the hardest," his mother explains. He didn't talk when he entered kindergarten and often would run off. "They had to install extra alarms" on the doors, she said of school administrators.
"He gets distracted. His brain is running 100 mph," she said. He can be talking to someone and in a split second, "his attention gets pulled away and he just wanders off."
Lindsay knows what if feels like to be different. When she was young, she had a speech impediment. Her brother had cerebral palsy. "I was always sticking up for him." She often told people, "He is just as human as you are."
She tries to teach Christian, and her three other children, "to be strong," she says, no matter what people say or do. But she also must "teach them there is good in the world."
Christian seems to have both. And a healthy dose of self-esteem. He so loves science, he says, because "I'm just really smart. And I want to become smarter."
As his latest interview comes to an end, and there have been plenty of them since his mom's social media post went viral and TV networks came calling, Christian says to his mother sitting next to him, "I'm getting more and more famous."