Five-year-old Kainoa has always had difficulty socializing and communicate with others. The boy has autism and his mother Shannon can't hug, wash, dress, or cuddle him without difficulty.
So, Shannon was both flabbergasted and overcome with tears of joy when Kainoa met his new service dog, Tornado, for the first time. Her beloved son defied all expectations and cuddled the dog voluntarily.
In a picture that has moved millions of people, mom Shannon Niehaus is crying profusely as she watches the warm meeting between her son and his first friend—a service dog that the family waited in line for two years to finally bring home.
”This picture captures the face of a mother who saw her child, who she can't hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely lay on his new service dog of his own free will, with a purposeful, unspoken attachment. This is the face of a mom who has seen her son experience countless failed social interactions on the playground in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection.
She has sat with her son while he has cried at night for months because he has no consistent connections outside of the family no matter how hard he tries and no matter what he works hard on in his autism therapies. It doesn't transfer to the natural occurring world for him.
Now she sits behind her son and observes quietly this moment, lose their breath and find no words," Shannon wrote on Facebook.
Shannon also explains how all the studies, all the money spent, and all of the completed paperwork has all been worth it after finally experiencing this intense combination of tears, joy, and so many emotions.
”Somehow because of this—because of Tornado—I know everything will be okay. As a mother, I have seen countless challenging and painful moments my son has encountered and cried countless more. Yesterday however, I cried for a different reason. It is a feeling that is indescribable.”
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