The Story Behind This Photo Touched The Hearts Of Thousands Of People Around The World

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This photo has 846k likes and over 300k shares for a heartbreaking, yet very much joyful reason. It was posted by Shanna Niehaus, the mother of the 5-year-old boy named Kaino, who’s seen lying on his new service dog. “As a mother, I have seen countless challenging and painful moments my son has encountered and cried countless more,” writes Shanna. “Yesterday however, I cried for a different reason.” [Continue reading below…]

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Scroll down for the whole letter to see why Shanna was moved beyond words.

autistic-boy-service-dog-kainoa-niehaus-1“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.

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.” S. Niehaus

Touched by Shanna’s post, people from around the world shared their personal stories, too

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“Lucas is slightly on the spectrum and has a hard time with interacting with people sometimes. Max was an abused rescue dog who we saved from a life of mistreatment, which caused him to fear human touch, except for Lucas” Allyson Spriggs

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“The dog who gave my son words… Big hugs to this momma. We prayed for this moment … and God sent us a dog” Candace Caldwell

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“‘Macy’ is a rescue dog. She is not a trained service dog, but my son has had a really tough year with his mental health. We don’t know who has rescued who” Jen Fisher

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