Woman shares heartwarming story behind photo of a little girl getting a hug

A mum has shared the heartwarming story behind a photo of her daughter getting a hug during a particularly stressful day at preschool.

Brittany Templeton’s three-year-old daughter Kayli has autism and most days functions highly, but she was unsure how she would react during a scheduled visit from the local fire department to her class on October 17.

She realised her daughter had a harder time than expected after seeing a photo of Anthony Banas, a Wheatland Fire Authority officer in Yuba County, California, giving her a hug.

In a post to Facebook, the mum expressed the profound effect of Mr Banas’s kind act, later finding out that he too had an autistic family member, so knew exactly how to help the preschooler relax.

The fire department shared this photo to its Facebook, and Kayli's mum later shared the story behind it. Source: Facebook/Wheatland Fire Authority

“I didn't even know she was struggling that day until I saw this picture. There were new people in her regular environment asking kids to try this and do this which would be awesome to most kids – but for her it can be overwhelming,” Ms Templeton wrote.

“This sweet man let her cuddle, and relax right there on his lap for who knows how long because he could just tell she was having a hard time.”

The mum said having a child with a condition meant there were many uncertainties going into each day.

“As a parent, this kind of diagnosis can leave you wondering how each day is going to be. If someone is going to show her compassion, or judgement. And yesterday, it was compassion,” she wrote.

The mum’s post went viral soon after, being shared thousands of times and attracting comments from hundreds of people all over the world.

Mr Banas, 25, told Yahoo Lifestyle he took notice of the little girl during a presentation on safety equipment.

Mr Banas met with Kayli at the fire station the following day. Source: Facebook/Wheatland Fire Authority

“We were showing the children our gear to make it less scary than it might be in a real situation, and I noticed Kayli in the corner with her teacher. She looked afraid,” he said.

His 20-year-old brother also has autism, so he was able to recognised signs that she was in distress.

“She didn’t have that usual shyness of children her age.”

During a question and answer session with the children, Kayli spontaneously approached Mr Banas and hugged him, pleasing the first responder, who also serves as an emergency room technician and a Navy Reservist.

Someone then photographed the moment and the image was shared to the fire department’s Facebook page.

Yahoo Lifestyle US

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