Aaron sometimes identifies more with his pet iguanas and Angry Birds than with kids his own age.
"He does feel lonely and isolated at times," mom Sarah Ann Houston said. "With children on the autism spectrum, social activities with kids can be challenging."
From sensory issues, like anxiety at loud noises and an aversion to being touched to difficulty sharing, Aaron experiences a host of barriers to living what many would consider a "normal" life.
"You know, he doesn't understand playing with other kids. Humor is something he has a difficult time with, he won't understand humor. He can't read people's facial expressions or the undertone to what they really mean," Houston said.
But something he does understand is animals.
"We sort of say it playfully in our family that he's an animal whisperer," Houston laughed. "When really it is like he has an amazing connection with animals. Somehow, he understands and gets them and they understand him," she said. "So, when I heard about service dogs for children with Autism, I had to learn more.
Houston's research led to her to Canine Specialty training, and a dog that simply clicked with Aaron's own personality. Gunther is the one they've all been waiting for.
"It's been a while since I've seen him. I've seen pictures," Aaron said.
"When I met him in person he was all riled up. He had just had surgery, but he still wanted me to rub his stomach," he added with a smile.
"He kind of feels like Gunther is going to be his best friend, you know?" Houston said. "Gunther will be able to go everywhere with him, and it's important from a sensory, social, and safety perspective."
Aaron, like other children on the Autism spectrum, often find themselves in fight or flight mode during socially stressful situations. While most children experience some fear when it comes to danger of being alone or running out in the street -- Aaron doesn't.
"These dogs can be trained for a variety of tasks," Houston said. "In our case, Gunther would be able to track Aaron if he wanders off. Aaron can zone into something, say a squirrel running in the trees in the park, and before you know it he's two miles into the woods without a sound."
Autistic children often experience trouble sleeping, and Aaron, like many of them, will wake up and wander around the house or even outside as their parents sleep.
"I've woken up to the sound of him coming back in the door," Houston said. "And all I could think was what if he hadn't decided that he wanted to come back. It was scary. We try to listen for him all the time, but we're human. Sometimes we don't hear it."
But part of Gunther's training has been to stand guard. When Aaron gets out of bed, Gunther will alert his parents. When he opens a door to go outside, Gunther will bark.
Aaron also recently broke his leg after he fell trying to climb a tree. Gunther is now trained to operate with Aaron in his wheelchair as an added touch.
"They've went above and beyond," Houston said of the training staff. "And we'll have to go through our own five-day training to make the most of it."
While service dogs are considered approved medical equipment for Autistic children, Aaron's Autism assistance animal is coming at a cost of $6,500.
"It's extremely expensive," Houston said. "And insurance just won't cover it. I don't know many families that have that kind of money just on hand. You see it will help your child, but it is an expense, so most of the families, us included, have to fund raise."
The Houston's have been at it for over a year to get the money together, and they're still trying to come up with the balance before they're set to leave for their training at the end of January.
"I really think this is a perfect fit," Houston said. "I really think this would completely change his life. So, it's worth it. And I'll do whatever I have to do for my son to have a brighter life. Right now, we're hoping some miracle happens and we can find some help to make that final fundraising push."
The Houstons will be in North Little Rock at Reno's Argenta Cafe (312 Main St, North Little Rock, Arkansas 72114-5326) on Friday for a fundraiser.
They've also documented their journey, to give other families an idea of the process, through Aaron's own Facebook page: Help Brighten Aaron's World and Get Him an Autism Assistance Dog