Autism can manifest itself in many different ways.
And for some – like 5-year-old Kainoa Niehaus – it can mean connecting with others and making friends is extremely hard.
But that may be changing for Kainoa.
Kainoa's mother, Shanna Niehaus, explained in a "Love What Matters" Facebook post this week that her son – whom she said she "can't hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely" – was able to make a physical connection "of his own free will" with his new service dog, Tornado:
For two years, the Niehaus family reportedly waited for a service dog to become available. They then made the long trip from Japan, where they live, to 4 Paws For Ability in Ohio, to meet Tornado and bring him home.
The service dog organization shared a video showing Kainoa and Tornado's initial meeting.
Afterward, Niehaus told InsideEdition.com, Kainoa needed a break. He later returned and cuddled up to the dog again.
Niehaus wrote that Kainoa "lay on his new service dog ... with a purposeful, unspoken attachment" as she looked on, crying.
"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 explained.
"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," Niehaus wrote. "Somehow because of this – because of Tornado – I know everything will be OK."
Tornado will be trained in search and rescue efforts as well as behavior disruption, according to InsideEdition. He'll be tested before graduating and going home with Kainoa.