Know more about Non-Verbal Autism
About a third of people on the autism spectrum use no spoken language, or only a few words. These individuals may be described as having non-verbal autism. Although there is no such term or diagnosis as “nonverbal autism”, there is no clear line between verbal and nonverbal individuals with autism.
Some people with non-verbal autism develop the ability to use a few words in a meaningful manner, but are unable to carry on any kind of significant conversation. They may say single words like “car” to say “let’s go for a ride,” but would not be able to answer the question “where should we go?”
Other non-verbal people have the ability to speak, but lack the ability to use language in a meaningful way. These individuals may “echo” scripts from television or expressions they’ve been taught by therapists. Instead of using these scripts to communicated ideas or desires, however, they seem to use “scripting” as a form of self-calming stimulation.
Plenty of few non-verbal individuals are unable to use spoken language effectively, but are able to communicate with written or typed language, sign language, picture cards, or digital communication devices. Once an individual is effectively communicating, even without spoken language, their ability to engage in the world expands dramatically.
Lack of Speech vs Intelligence
Anyone who receives an IQ score of 70 or less on specific tests is labelled Intellectually Disabled. Until recently, it was wrongly assumed that all non-verbal kids with autism were intellectually disabled, as their IQ scores often fell far under 70. It has now become clear that typical IQ tests are very poor tools for measuring intellectual ability in children with autism.
The Inability of Autistic children to Talk
No one really knows why some people with autism can’t or don’t use spoken language. It is puzzling because quite a few non-verbal people on the spectrum can and do choose to communicate using sign language, picture cards, and other digital tools. Some people with autism also have childhood apraxia of speech, a neurological disorder that makes spoken language extremely difficult.
Can Autistic children Talk?
Often, therapists use the term “preverbal” rather than “nonverbal” to describe autistic children who do not use spoken language. This term is often accurate, with quite a few autistic children with delayed speech who gain ability to communicate with spoken language. Some become fluent, others never gain more than a few words. It is important to distinguish whether children are nonverbal (i.e. no spoken language), preverbal (i.e. younger children who haven’t yet developed verbal skills), or non-communicative (i.e. having neither verbal nor nonverbal communication skills).
Encouraging Children to Speak or Communicate
There are several techniques for encouraging and improving spoken language for children with autism, though there is no guarantee that any particular approach will be effective for any given child. Research suggests that speech therapy, behavioral interventions, and even play therapy can improve verbal communication. Some early research also suggests that music therapy and related techniques can make a positive impact on speech.