I got the following in an e-mail from Oliver's aide today:
"I just had a great day with Oliver and wanted to tell you this: Oliver was at the table with the doll house and a friend was playing beside him with a helper. The other little boy was in a hugging mood, he walked up behind Oliver and reached to give him a hug, Oliver then turned to return the hug. They stood there hugging for about 30 sec. The little boy started to walk away and Oliver continued to follow him around trying to "talk" to him (i'm not to sure what he was saying). Oliver kept reaching his arms out to give him another hug, and of course by this point all the teachers are watching so the little boy is pretending not to care. This went on for like 2 min then Oliver decided he was done and walked away. I think this was the most emotional I have been about a kid in a long time; it really touched me that he wanted to interact but was unsure until another student came and showed him how. I love moments like that. It will stay with me forever. "
Last fall we were really amused by Oliver whenever we took him to a place where there were other kids because he went around hugging everyone. I apologized to more than one parent after he had gripped their child in a bear hug so stong that both kids ended up tumbling to the ground. "He just really likes to hug people," I remember saying. And I felt kind of happy inside that he was such an affectionate kid.
Fast forward to the beginning of the summer this year and another picture that springs to mind is of Oliver playing in the kiddie pool in our back yard with one of the other children from our play group. The little girl spent a lot of time dumping water on Oliver's head to which he responded with such glee. He wanted to return the favor for her but she didn't really like water over her head so he was happy to let her do the dumping. It was about this same time that we were beginning to suspect that Oliver might have a speech delay and I had taken him to the school district for observation. There was no diagnosis yet.
Fast forward again to the end of the summer and another kiddie pool. Oliver wouldn't go near the other kids and I spent the whole time trying to keep him from escaping the yard. By now I had the diagnosis and was determined to get him to interact with the other kids. It didn't work and I ended up quietly devastated. It was almost unbelieveable to me how much he had changed in less than a year. How had it happened without it being so obvious?
So we have had the diagnosis for almost exactly 4 months, he has had a program going for 8 weeks and I already see glimmers of the things to come. A little hug can go a long way.