I think it's important to teach Elijah social customs. He may not be able to carry on a conversation with a person, but he should be able to say hello or goodbye in his own way.
Since Elijah usually sees at least two therapists a day, he has lots of opportunity to say hi and goodbye each day. I've been taking advantage of that by telling Elijah to "say hi" or "say bye" when his therapists are coming or going. If he doesn't do it, I move his arm for him and praise him for his efforts. If he does wave on his own, we all make a really big deal about it.
It's working. He's waving more and he does it quicker than ever before. Now I'll sometimes find him by our front door, waving. Usually no one is there, but he gets that is where his therapist-friends enter and exit and he is prepared.
And then there was yesterday. One of his therapists was leaving. He waved. We all praised him.
Then the sweetest little voice I've ever heard emerged from Elijah saying, "Bye!" Three of us heard him. We cheered. And my heart soared. The hope for speech comes pouring back into my soul.
It was clear, it was appropriate, and it was paired with a wave. He said, "bye!"
If Elijah's history tells us anything, it's that we might not hear anything again from him for a long time. Sometimes that makes me sad, but right now I'm focusing on what he is doing. He waves to say good-bye. That is more than enough.
Tonight at the grocery store, I told Elijah to tell the cashier good-bye. Immediately, his little hand went up in the air and waved. It didn't seem like much to the cashier, but we were beaming with pride.