NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – A Niles man received some well wishes Wednesday from his co-workers and friends after spending nearly a month hospitalized with COVID-19.

Ryan Miller, 36, has autism and is non-verbal. He spent nearly a month at Saint Joseph Hospital in Warren, and he was on a ventilator for 17 days.

Clients at the Fairhaven Workshop in Trumbull County came to visit Ryan at his home carrying signs, gifts and balloons.

Ryan’s dad Ed Miller said his son’s illness started with just a mild cough.

“We noticed the first week he had basically just a little tickle cough. This just seemed to come on very fast,” he said.

The news that Ryan was sick hit very hard. Fairhaven caseworker Susan Fabian said everyone was worried.

“I was just totally devastated. I just prayed and prayed for him because he is so sweet,” she said.

Ryan came home just a week ago but had to spend the holidays away from his family and friends.

“We could only go in for very short visits on Wednesday. Once in the morning and once in the evening. That was just terrible,” Miller said.

Miller says because of his son’s inability to communicate, treatment was very difficult. Doctors finally came up with a plan to get him off the ventilator.

“Knowing he was breathing on his own was fantastic because, you know, we didn’t know what was going to happen,’ Miller said.

For now, Ryan continues recuperating at home. His dad hopes he can return to the workshop, soon. His friends feel the same way.

“This has meant the world to us. To know he has recovered so well. We cannot wait until he gets back to the workshop and I can pick him back up,” said bus driver Ruthanne Miller.