The Challenge of Having a Nonverbal Child

Our two children with autism are considered nonverbal. That doesn’t mean they have no words, just that they do not typically communicate with verbal speech.

Most times we can deal with it. They have no problems asking for what they want. We have learned to understand facial expressions and body language.

Recently there was a situation in which we felt this deficit most keenly. Our son Logan hurt himself. By “hurt himself” I don’t mean that he got hurt, but that he literally hurt himself.

Self-harm is common for people with autism. I know a young man who has hit himself enough to become blind in one eye. Our children have not suffered any permanent injury.

This was difficult for us because Logan lives in a group home over an hour away.

Beyond that, the fact that he is nonverbal makes things complicated. We can’t ask him how he is feeling now, nor can we ask why he hurt himself in the first place.

We longed to rush over to him and ask him all the questions a parent would normally want to. But we couldn’t.

These communication barriers can be frustrating in these situations. I share this not to complain, but so that you have more understanding of what it like to have a child who is nonverbal.

Don’t pity, but please try to understand.

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