— Are you verbal? Semi-verbal? Nonverbal? —
I am verbal some of the time, but that is usually only if I am around people I am comfortable with. Or if I get to info-dump about things I love.
For the majority of the rest of the time, I am actually semi-verbal. My words don’t really like to work right. I have them in my head, but attempting to speak them doesn’t always work out the way I want. Sometimes I have the word I want to use in my thoughts, but I can’t access that word for speech. For example, one time I was at the store with my husband to get items for baking cookies. Well, I wanted to ask him to help me find the parchment paper. I had the concept/idea of parchment paper in my head, but all I could get out of my mouth was “baking, baking” and trying to mime the size of the box I was looking for. My husband was quite confused by me. I finally looked up and found the box I wanted. There have been many more instances where things like that have happened.
Non-verbal happens quite a bit. Sensory issues can cause it to happen, and so can any fights with friends or family. Not feeling well can also cause it. It’s always an odd feeling when you have the words in your head but the path to your mouth for speaking is disconnected.
— How do you usually communicate? —
I actually do most of my communication via typing on my laptop, tablet, or phone. Even with my husband being in the next room, we still sometimes just type at each other. I actually find written communication a lot easier for me and I don’t loose any access to my words.
I learned an interesting fact when my best friend was in the hospital for his brain tumor. The doctors were afraid that, because of the location where his tumor was in his brain, he might loose speech when they removed it. However, they said he would still be able to communicate by typing on a device or writing on paper. Apparently written communication and speech communication are in different areas of the brain. My best friend ended up still being able to speak after the operation, as his brain had changed where his speech centers were to avoid the tumor.
Speaking for me becomes really slow sometimes. Slow as in trying to figure out how to get words to go from my head out of my mouth. I can actually feel them being slower to process. My husband can tell when this happens, though apparently some of my other friends can’t. When I mentioned it was happening the last time I saw a large group of my friends in person, they said they couldn’t hear any difference in how fast my speech was working.
If you have an Autistic person in your life you care about, please let them communicate in the way they feel most comfortable. It will make them much happier and save them a lot of energy they could use for something else. So please don’t make fun of them or take away whatever they use to communicate, be it their phone with an AAC application, an actual AAC device, etc. If they aren’t comfortable using verbal speech, don’t push them. It’s not going to do anyone any good in the communication department if both parties are upset or fighting.