Hugs and human touch are things that some kids on the autism spectrum can’t handle. Can you imagine being a parent and being unable to embrace or comfort your child? One 5 year old met his very own service dog and everything has changed.
Before that day Shanna never saw her son willingly accept an embrace. For her, the simple act of washing, dressing, or cuddling her son is a struggle.
Shanna Neihaus, Kai’s mother, couldn’t hold back her gratefulness when Kai met tornado for the first time.
“See this moment? I’ve never experienced a moment like this. Yesterday was the first day my 5-year-old autistic son met his new autism service dog, Tornado. We are Americans that live overseas in Japan and have prepared for nearly two years to meet Tornado,”
“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,” she’s said. “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.”
The moment he saw Tornado, Kai ran over to him. The bond was instant. Shanna was in disbelief, her son hugged the dog. Until that day, Shanna never saw her son willingly embrace anyone, even from other family members. Because he couldn’t accept touch from anyone, making friends was difficult for the little boy
“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,” she explains.
“It doesn’t transfer to the natural occurring world for him. And now she is sitting behind her son silently watching this moment, with the air sucked from her lungs, and no words to say.”
“It’s worth every fight for services for my son, every diagnosis, every new provider, every dollar spent, every paper filled out, every school meeting, every shed tear, every step forward, every step back, and every wonder of the unknown future,” Shanna said.