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Nonverbal autism - first person accounts

In recent years, multiple first-person accounts by verbal ASD individuals have given valuable insight into their unique perspective and thinking style (click here for suggested reading list). These accounts are important, because to understand what autism is like from the inside changes the way that we (as parents, therapists, educators) deal with the challenges of autism from the outside. 

Still, critical pieces of the puzzle are missing. What about the large proportion of the ASD population who remain at a nonverbal or low verbal level?

Adam -non-verbal

A small, but growing, number of nonverbal ASD individuals have been able to use written language to present their point of view, revealing sharp intellects behind the lack of speech and unusual behaviours. Clearly not being able to communicate by conventional means is not the same as not thinking or having nothing to say. 

I would encourage you to read some of the first-person accounts written by non-verbal individuals - this list will get you started:

1. Carly Fleischmann is a young Canadian woman who types to talk. You can read about her on her website carlysvoice.com. You can also follow her Facebook page, where she writes and shares what’s new.

2. Henry is a nonverbal teenager who writes a blog called Roses are Red for Autism. He says: “My main idea for this blog is to inform others of what being a non verbal autistic is like, and to help end negativity about autism.”

3. Tito Mukhopadhyay is nonverbal and he wrote a book of poetry called “The Mind Tree” (2000). You can read more about Tito (including some of his poems) in this online National Geographic article.

4. Philip is another young nonverbal teen who has learned to communicate through written words using RPM (teaching method developed by Tito’s mom) and he now shares his thoughts on his blog Faith, Hope, and Love … With Autism.

5. Ido is a young nonverbal man who types to talk and writes a blog called Ido in Autismland (also the title of his book). He says: “I am an autistic guy with a message. I spent the first half of my life completely trapped in silence. The second - on becoming a free soul.”

6. Emma is a nonverbal teen girl who types to talk and you can read her writing online at emmashopebook.com

7. Amy Sequenzia is a young nonverbal woman who advocates for disabled rights - you can read some of her writing on the Ollibean website

Also, here are two books written by mothers about their nonverbal sons who learned to communicate through written words:

1. “Strange Son” (2007), written by Portia Iverson about her son Dov. You can read more on the website strangeson.com.

2. “Silent Words: Forever Friends” (1990), written by Margaret Eastham about her son David. Read more about the book in this Goodreads review.

© Sheila Bell, Speech-Language Pathologist, “Autism and the Art of Communication” ~ 2015