Friday, April 20, 2012

Finding our words

I'm struggling to find the words to describe how things are unfolding with Oliver. Let's be honest: it is nothing short of amazing. Here was a boy with few words. 100 maybe? 200? They were the ones he needed. He could say: "Can I have some water?"  with support but usually the single word "Water!" was enough to get what he wanted.

Within the space of three weeks I now find myself having complex conversations with this same kid. Where did I put all those exclamation points? Cause that's a sentence that certainly deserves one!!

And what do we talk about? Everything. And nothing much. Turns out they are pretty much the same thing. Think about the conversations you had with your spouse and your kids this morning. You traded all the information you needed. You talked about your thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions. The weather. Lunch plans. What to have for breakfast.  But it all probably didn't amount to much. Most of the time we lead pretty mundane lives. So maybe that's why I sometimes forget to use my exclamation points -- because in some ways it all seems so normal.

And yet? Wow!!!! Our normal at the moment is so profound! All these years I had tried to get inside Oliver's head, to figure out his thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions -- but really, there is just so much 100 words can convey. And now? He can tell me that the kid at the park shouted at him to go away and that it made him feel bad but that he just ignored it. He can tell me that he likes swimming in the ocean and that he also likes oatmeal but he is kind of sick of it right now and definitely doesn't want to eat it for breakfast again.

And he can tell me that he also knows how to add, subtract and multiply because: "I saw it in one of RT's books. .... when I was about five." And when I stare at him in wonder and disbelief he can also say "I'm just really smart, Mom." 

He can also tell me that he prefers writing because when he speaks he has a hard time finding his words. And these days I kinda have a glimpse into how that feels.

ps: If you're reading this, don't feel shy about leaving a comment! I'd love to hear from you. Blogging is lonely with no comments!!!


  1. that is truely amazing! I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for him ot "know" allt his but not be able to say it. I was hoping for some major communication leaps when my son switched to an ipad with proloquo but so far no such luck. We will kepe trying!

  2. I am beyond thrilled for Oliver and for you! And I am so happy that you are writing again--I had been a lurker years back when you were writing more regularly and learned so much from your RDI experiences. It is a gift to hear this amazing update.

  3. Amazing. All of it. And I am so overjoyed for you.

  4. I have missed and longed for your blog, and now this... this wonderful, joyful news. He is really smart, and he reminds us that so many people have strengths and talents we might not be able to recognize on the surface. I have been thinking of your family a lot, and I am grateful for your posts.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have posted it on Facebook, and shared it with family and my son's teachers. I want everyone to know that we cannot make any assumptions about an autistic person's intellect or abilities based on what comes out of his mouth. All we can do is try to help that person find a way to express what he or she is thinking and feeling. I look forward to following the rest of your and Oliver's journey. Absolutely amazing! And, yes, I think this calls for some more exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I am still blown away by all this! :-)