Do You Ever Wonder What It's Like to Have a Nonverbal Child?

Do you ever wonder what it's like to have a nonverbal child?

If you're a parent, think about your child.

Think back to their first words.  Those long-awaited "Mamas" and "Dadas."

Within a few months, they're using dozens of words.  Naming their favorite people, snacks, and toys.  Participating in social games and saying "bye-bye" when people leave.

The next thing you know, they're putting words together.

Then come the questions:

What's that?


Mommy!  Mommy?  Mommy?!  ("Mommy" is then multiplied by 4,000 times each day.)

Suddenly you have this little toddler who talks all day long. Questions.  Requests.  Comments.  More questions and more "Mommy's."

You get to hear about their favorite books and favorite tv shows.  You know about their favorite colors and favorite toys.  You have tea parties, and you know all about their stuffed animals and their thoughts too.  (Because toddlers have this gift of communicating with and interpreting for their toys, in case you didn't know.)  You hear all about their day.  You hear them say, "I love you."

Then they start school.  You get to hear about what they are learning and who they played with at recess.  You get to hear about their lunch and whether they liked it or not.   You get to know their thoughts and help talk through difficult things with them, like death and bullies.  You get to talk with them about the exciting things too, like new friends and fun games.  You hear about the latest trends and fads and music and....well, everything.

Now, imagine you never got to hear any of that.

No first words.

No "Mama" or "Dada."

No "Mommy" 4,000 times a day.

No "I love you."

You don't get to know their favorite color or hear about their day.  You don't get to know what they're thinking. You know they have questions, but they can't ask them.

Imagine a world where you lost all of that with your child.  How much would you want to know about them?  Wouldn't you wonder about...well, everything?  That's what it's like having a nonverbal child.

For many parents, this is their reality.  Many never even get to hear their child's voice.  They know their child has things to say, but they can't their thoughts and feelings and words stay in their own minds. 

Now imagine being the child who cannot speak.  How frustrated would you feel?  How much would you wish to communicate if given the chance?

October is AAC Awareness month, and I want people to know just how life-changing AAC can be.

Pictured: iPad with PRC's LAMP Words for Life

Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) can give a voice to those who cannot speak.  Being nonverbal doesn't mean that you have nothing to say - it just means that you need another means by which to express it.

My son's use of an AAC device has changed his life.  Communication is so powerful, and it opens up the world to us all.  Yes, AAC has given him the ability to communicate with us, but do you know what else?  It has given us the opportunity to get to know our son in a way that we couldn't before.


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