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Non-verbal autistic students will indicate three behaviors. The first is non-verbal. The second is pre-verbal. The third is non-communicative. Out of all diagnosed cases of autism twenty five percent are considered “non-verbal” autistics. This is a blurred line for diagnostics because there is no clear line to be drawn between non-verbal and verbal autistics. Some people diagnosed with autism can speak but do not have the ability to speak in a meaningful manner. Others are able to use the spoken language but they are not able to communicate with typed language or written language. Yet some can speak with digital communication devices or picture cards.
One of the most unique aspects of non-verbal autism is that no one really understands why certain people with autism can or do not use the spoken language. Some people do have a neurological disorder called apraxia of speech which makes it challenging for them to speak but many non-verbal autistic individuals just don’t speak. Clearly there are different brain functions that can inhibit language but as of late there is no agreement on the differences between them or how they can impact each student.
The NIH has stated that is can be quite challenging to assess individuals who are non-verbal using traditional instruments. Current measurement tools are not reliable or valid for the autistic community. For example: the presence of a single word or even echolalic speech is a predictor that spoken language has been acquired. Others want to distinguish between no spoken language and those children who have not yet developed the ability to speak but can. Non-communicative means that the person has no communication skills either verbal or non-verbal compared to preverbal children who have not learned to communicate and non-verbal who have no ability to speak.
There are new techniques being used to encourage and improve language in autistic children but there is no guarantee yet that any of these particular approaches will be effective for every child. Research indicates that behavioral interventions and speech therapy are the best ways in which people can improve verbal communication. Music therapy is another related technique that has a positive impact on non-verbal autistic children.
Overall there are three major behaviors of non-verbal autistic students. The first is non-verbal. The second is pre-verbal. The third is non-communicative. While the diagnosis for non-verbal students is a grey area there are still many modern techniques being developed to provide help.
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