Worried that your child with autism may be nonverbal? Perhaps you’re wondering if they can ever learn how to speak.
Either way, you’re in the right place. After you read this article, you will know what nonverbal autism is, its early signs, and how you can help your child get comfortable with talking.
What is nonverbal autism?
If your son or daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and they haven’t spoken their first words by the time they turned 4 years old, they are considered to have nonverbal autism.
To put it another way, children with nonverbal autism don’t use verbs or words when they interact with others.
Some of them will make sounds or noises (instead of speaking) to communicate what they think or how they feel.
Since a few of the symptoms of nonverbal autism are similar to the signs that accompany other physical problems, you want to take your child to the doctor to make sure that they don’t have any serious or major medical conditions.
At the appointment, the doctor may conduct blood tests and physical and imaging exams before they give you a diagnosis.
Keep in mind that nonverbal autism is somewhat common.
What percentage of autism is nonverbal?
In the past, it was believed that about 40% of autistic children were nonverbal. However, according to a 2013 study of nonverbal autism, the figure is now closer to 25%.
This is because the autism diagnosis criteria has expanded in recent years to include those with mild forms of ASD.
Additionally, new and advanced treatment methods are allowing children to get diagnosed with nonverbal autism at an early stage. In turn, they can address their symptoms and begin to learn how to speak while they’re still very young.
Signs That Your Child Will Be Nonverbal
Your son or daughter may be nonverbal if they display the following autism spectrum disorder communication problems as a baby or toddler:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Not knowing how to gesture, wave, or communicate in other non-verbal ways
- Ignoring nearby sounds or their name being called
- Not mumbling or making noises as a baby
- Failing to use body language to express themselves
If your child shows any of these symptoms, you need to remember that the quicker you get them treated, the sooner that they will learn how to speak.
After all, a study revealed that 47% of boys and girls that had nonverbal autism language delays when they were 4 years old went on to be fluent speakers.
Moreover, 70% of them were eventually capable of using short phrases and sentences.
How can a nonverbal child learn to communicate?
There are various scientifically-proven ways to help your child with nonverbal autism speak and communicate.
Here are some of the most noteworthy ones:
Encourage Play and Social Interaction
When your child is encouraged to play games that they enjoy and interact with others, they will get more comfortable with communicating, even if they do so non verbally.
Over time, this makes it easier for them to start using their words and orally express themselves.
Simplify Your Language
Complex words and long sentences are difficult to imitate. Instead, say simple words and phrases when you speak to them.
Once your son or daughter starts to mimic you, you can move on to longer words and sentences.
When you playfully copy the sounds and noises that your boy or girl is making, you are encouraging them to start mimicking the words and phrases that you say.
Use Assistive Technologies and Visual Supports
There are certain apps that are designed to teach children words when they press on a visual or image. For example, if your nonverbal kid touches a picture of an apple on the device’s screen, they will hear the word “apple”.
Alternatively, you may have your child use physical pictures to express what they think and how they feel.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is currently the most prevalent therapeutic approach for autism symptoms, in general.
When you take your nonverbal boy or girl to see an ABA therapist, this is what you can expect:
- The therapist evaluates your child’s condition, development, and communication skills.
- They identify the problematic environmental and sensory triggers that your kid is struggling with. For example, your child may have difficulty communicating when the TV volume is turned up or a family member talks loudly.
- The therapist eliminates these triggers and puts together a treatment plan for teaching your son or daughter how to speak.
If ABA therapy seems like a suitable option for you and your child, you can rely on the experts at Hidden Talents ABA to provide you with all that you need and more.
Our trained and licensed therapists specialize in working with children with ASD on overcoming different types of difficulties and challenges.
Above all, we accept insurance plans from a wide range of carriers, and we work with Medicaid patients, too!
With Hidden Talents ABA’s expert care and guidance, not only will your nonverbal kid learn how to communicate and talk, but your child can achieve more than what you thought was possible.