When Shanna Niehaus witnessed her son who has Autism, Kai, bonding with a new service dog in a way which he refused from others, she was moved to tears.
Kai was diagnosed with Autism when he was 4-years-old. After months of Kai crying each night because he couldn’t make any friends or human connections, regardless of how hard he tried in his Autism therapies, he finally found what he had been seeking in Tornado; a companion.
Shanna shared her experience in the following post with LoveWhatMatters:
“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. 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. And now she is sitting behind her son silently watching this moment, with the air sucked from her lungs, and no words to say.”
Shanna reflected on how all of the struggles of parenting have been worth it, and that there is a new light of hope from Kai’s connection with Tornado.
“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. 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.”
Tornado is a Golden Labrador who was trained to be a service dog for Kai by 4 Paws For Ability, a beautiful nonprofit whose mission is to place quality service dogs with children who have disabilities.
Love can come from unexpected places, in unexpected forms. Kai has always wanted to give and receive love, and we’re so grateful that now because of his new companion, he’s able to.
See the beautiful encounter between Kai and Tornado in the following video:
You are Loved.