How to explain to your friends and family your son is nonverbal

Whenever I go somewhere new, and they say hi to my son, I have to explain “he is non-verbal.” We will either try to say hi vocally or with his device. He is getting better with words, that is for sure. However, it still can be challenging because after that they might want to have more conversations or ask questions. 

They don’t know what to expect. What does nonverbal mean? How does he communicate? You mean he doesn’t talk at all? I get these questions all the time. It has given me anxiety over the years, but in reality now it doesn’t bother me as much. I am thankful and grateful for this little boy and accepted him for who he is. 

However, whenever we see someone new or haven’t seen anyone in a long time, I like to make sure they understand what this means. 

  1. Set boundaries: You want to make sure to let them know what to do if he gets frustrated but also how to talk calm. There are certain things that a child might like or not like. There are certain ‘triggers’ that can cause a child to be overwhelmed. If there are any triggers make sure to share it. 
  2. Make sure to tell them how he communicates: Whether it is sign language, a device, or verbally (just not well) you will want to tell them. If it is a combination of a few of these make sure to make it clear as well. Also, what words he knows, make a list for verbally and on the device. Be open and share the most common phrases and words used. 
  3. Eye Contact: This is one of the first things that I learned about having an auistic child. Eye contact is important, it really helps ausitic children to relate easier. It helps to also listen carefully and communicate better. Get down on their level so they can understand you better. 

It is important to let others around you such as friends and family know this, and how to handle it so that everyone can have fun and communicate. Nothing is more frustrating as a parent and a non-verbal son than someone trying to figure it out or not understand. Also, one more key piece of advice, be patient. Sometimes children can get frustrated and overwhelmed.

Susie Liberatore is the owner, and Art Director, of Visions2images Creative Services. She helps established businesses grow their brand awareness by using digital marketing and professional branding techniques. With over a decade of agency and corporate experience, she brings businesses’ visions to life, while watching their return on investment increase.

Susie helps businesses grow their brand presence and connect with their target audience.

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