“You Keep Using That Word…”

I started out this morning on this topic on Twitter, and realized I probably should just expound on it here instead.

When we’re out and about, we usually refer to the Monster as “non-verbal”.  I took him with me to a meeting on Thursday night, and one of my friends commented that she doesn’t understand why I refer to him as “non-verbal” when he’s clearly able to speak.


First things first – “non-verbal” doesn’t mean “mute”.  Sit near the Monster for five minutes, and you’ll realize this.

The Monster is not mute.  He is capable of generating sound and words on his own, but he doesn’t generally use them for effective communication, which is what makes him non-verbal.

He can verbalize.  He has a couple of scaffolded sentences he uses, and that can be effective communication, but much of the time, he’ll use a word or just growl or the like.  Further, asking him questions – no matter how well directed – doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get a useful/meaningful response.  (My favorite in public is, when he’s being asked questions, is to throw in a clearly nonsensical question to demonstrate – “Are you a fire-engine?” to which the answer is almost universally “yes”, because the Monster’s a people-pleaser.)

We do have more luck wth picture communication as a scaffold, though.  He has a couple of pages of a ‘book’ that he uses for simple requests, and the talker for slightly more complex explanations, so he definitely knows what he wants and can express it.  That it doesn’t come out verbally… that’s different.

So, quick rant over.  Back to your day, folks. 🙂

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