Viral photo captures heartwarming moment between preschooler with autism, California first responder

WHEATLAND, CA. ( — A mother’s heartfelt thank you to a California first responder has gone viral.

The Wheatland Fire Authority went to a local preschool to teach kids about fire safety and a now-viral photo touched one mom’s heart. The photo shared by the department captured a firefighter hugging a young girl. In a Facebook post, the department shared a message from the girl’s mother.

The mother explained her daughter was recently diagnosed with Autism and “functions fairly normal most days, but then there are others.” She then went on to state the day the photo was taken, her daughter was struggling because there were new people in her regular environment, which can overwhelm her.

In the post, the mother said the first responder let her daughter cuddle and relax on his lap because he could tell she was having a hard time.

“I was able to get this firefighters info, and message him. Come to find out he has an autistic family member, so he was able to relate and help calm her a bit,” she wrote in the post.

The mother said she wanted to share the story behind the photo so the community could know the background and how compassionate the firefighter was.

“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,” read part of the post.