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What causes a person to be "non-verbal"?

Posted by on Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:06 PM
  • 28 Replies

I feel like I've filled my "question quota" for the week, but you are all so unbelivably helpful. Hope you don't mind another one! 

I'm really struggling to understand what "non-verbal" is, and how it happens. My son's a year and a half, and babbles a bit and said "more bubble" once, which was basically a miracle that never happened again. That was during a sensory exercise with his OT, by the way. She said it was because he's getting more "organized". 

The thing is, my husband and I are both on the spectrum as well, and we both have "non-verbal" moments. My husband will go mute from time to time, and I frequently have moments where I lose up to 50% of my verbal language, maybe even more. I just don't really understand why that is. I don't understand what happens to us, all I know is that the words dissappear. They reappear later on, and then I kick myself for not being able to spit them out when I would have wanted to. 

Anyway...I would so greatly appreciate it if someone could give me a little bit of information on this. 


Thanks :)



by on Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:06 PM
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Replies (1-10):
AMom29
by Bronze Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Well, I can tell you my 5 yr old son is considered "non-verbal".  He is getting much better, but he doesn't speak.  He tries, but you really have to listen because his pronouncitation sounds more like a deaf person speaking (there's nothing wrong with his ears). He will also more communicate by gestures, scretching or screaming, or bringing you to things. 

JTMOM422
by Brenda on Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:54 PM
1 mom liked this

My ds is 2 1/2 and just now has begun to use words to ask for things. He will pretty much say more juice each time he wants it other than that he doesn't say much he can count to 20 and says other words repeating them back but doesn't just say them on his own. He does occassionally say I love you without being prompted. He barely had 5 words 6 months ago and now can say about 30. It's not a lot but I am hopeful for more. He does sing songs but that is more echolelea than anything. His ABA says that right now anything is good because it shows he can do some form of speech. We don't know if he will ever be able to communicate but I will take each new word and be the proudest mom in the world

Bluerose1482
by Bronze Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:07 PM

I have no idea what causes it.  But my son has Asperger's and although he always knew enough words for his language development to be considered normal he would frequently go days without talking--not a word.  He doesn't do that anymore, but sometimes he just can't think of the word he wants to use.  

kajira
by Emma on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM

I have trouble talking like you describe, it either comes out in gibberish even though i SEE the words in my head, I just can't make them come out and sound right.... my brain disconnects from other parts when it processes different information and eventually it resumes a normal working structuer... but during that processing - I may not be able to follow conversations or speak clearly/well while my brain catches up to everything.

Non-verbal means they don't ever speak and cannot communicate in other forms (like sign langauge) as far as i'm concerned. I have moments where I can't talk or communicate clearly, but I'm not always like that.

newmommy430
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:35 PM
No one really knows why. They only know that some have apraxia (which is an inability to control the muscles that are used for speech), but it's unclear why others without apraxia are nonverbal. It's one of those things the experts fight and speculate about, but have yet to prove their theories.
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A_McCool
by Bronze Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:59 PM

I'm a very verbal thinker, and I would think that would elminate some of the issues you mentioned in your post.  Yeah, no.  I can know what I'm going to say.  I can "hear" it in my head, but there are times when I cannot get it out without stammering, pausing, forgetting words, and having to start over repeatedly.  My husband, also, gets to play a fun game where I forgot what word I was going to say or the name of something, and I just describe whatever it is to him instead.  There are times where I'm at a complete loss for words, and the description he gets is "you know the thing with the thing and the other thing." 

lady_katie
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:18 PM

That's interesting to me, because I think in pictures for the most part, and I was wondering if it had something to do with translating the pictures into words. Maybe it has nothing to do with that. Let me ask you, if you don't mind...could you describe what it's like to think in words? Is it like a narration? Do you see images at all? Thanks! 

Quoting A_McCool:

I'm a very verbal thinker, and I would think that would elminate some of the issues you mentioned in your post.  Yeah, no.  I can know what I'm going to say.  I can "hear" it in my head, but there are times when I cannot get it out without stammering, pausing, forgetting words, and having to start over repeatedly.  My husband, also, gets to play a fun game where I forgot what word I was going to say or the name of something, and I just describe whatever it is to him instead.  There are times where I'm at a complete loss for words, and the description he gets is "you know the thing with the thing and the other thing." 


lady_katie
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:35 PM

I think that we have a lot in common, I've really felt like I could relate to a lot of your posts. 

That's interesting that you see the words. I usually only see images (very graphic images). I find that I have the most trouble with language when I'm in a social situation. I think they're really the most difficult for me to process. Especially when it's unfamiliar or loud/busy. 

Quoting kajira:

I have trouble talking like you describe, it either comes out in gibberish even though i SEE the words in my head, I just can't make them come out and sound right.... my brain disconnects from other parts when it processes different information and eventually it resumes a normal working structuer... but during that processing - I may not be able to follow conversations or speak clearly/well while my brain catches up to everything.

Non-verbal means they don't ever speak and cannot communicate in other forms (like sign langauge) as far as i'm concerned. I have moments where I can't talk or communicate clearly, but I'm not always like that.


emarin77
by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:51 PM

I'm turning around the question to you.  Why don't you speak?  What are you feeling or thinking to not use your words?

Tammi4
by Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:56 PM
As a parent with a disabled, non-verbal adult son, I'm curious to hear the answer to this question.


Quoting emarin77:

I'm turning around the question to you.  Why don't you speak?  What are you feeling or thinking to not use your words?


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