Goally Penguin Logo with Sunglasses

Goally

Get

Goally

Can My Child with Nonverbal Autism Understand Me?

You’re trying to talk to your child, but they don’t respond with words. It’s tough for any parent of a neurodivergent kid, especially when you wonder if your nonverbal child understands what you’re saying. The good news is that, yes, many children with nonverbal autism can understand language and communication cues. So let’s dive into the world of nonverbal autism and explore how these kids see the world around them.

Breaking Down Language Barriers: Can Nonverbal Autism Understand?

The short answer is that many children with nonverbal autism do understand spoken language in different ways. However, their ability to express themselves may be limited due to challenges in speech production or motor planning.

  • A range of understanding: Like all individuals on the autism spectrum, each child’s abilities will vary widely. Some may have trouble understanding complex sentences, while others might grasp simpler phrases.
  • Taking in information: Kids who can’t speak might still absorb information from their environment through listening or observing body language and facial expressions.

Now that we know many kids with nonverbal autism can understand spoken language to some extent, it’s essential for parents like you to find effective ways of communicating so they feel heard and supported.


SPONSORED BY: Goally

Goally’s Kid’s Tablet has one of the largest libraries of skill-building videos (like “How to Share” and “What To Do When You’re Lost”) in the Goal Mine app.๐Ÿ‘‡

Finding Their Language: Communication Tips for Parents

If you’ve figured out that your child can indeed understand spoken language, it’s time to develop effective ways of talking with them so they feel heard and supported. Here are some strategies parents can use when interacting with their neurodivergent kids:

  1. Keep it simple: Use short, direct sentences with active verbs. Avoid using complex language or abstract ideas that could be hard for your child to understand.
  2. Visual aids: Use visual cues like pictures, symbols, or even written words to help make your message clearer.

Repetition is also essential when communicating with children who have nonverbal autism. Repeat important information multiple times and give your child time to process what you’re saying before expecting a response. Show them how to do certain actions by doing them yourself โ€“ this can help reinforce the meaning of the words you’re using.

Can nonverbal autism understand? A mother and her son sit on the floor and look at a map.
Read more: How to Communicate With a Nonverbal Autism Child

The Magic of Alternative Communication Methods

Sometimes, spoken language isn’t enough for kids with nonverbal autism. That’s where alternative communication methods come in! By exploring these options, parents can find ways for their children to express themselves better and create a stronger connection between family members.

AAC Devices: Giving Voice to Those Without Words

AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices are tools made specifically for people who have trouble with verbal communication. These devices range from simple picture boards to high-tech gadgets that generate speech output based on user input.

  • Pictograms & PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System): A system that uses pictures or symbols as a way of communicating between parent and child.
  • Voice-output devices & apps: Gadgets like tablets are equipped with special software which allows users to select phrases or words that are then spoken aloud by the device.
Ever wondered, "Can nonverbal autism understand sign language?" Sign language is indeed a powerful way for children with nonverbal autism to communicate their thoughts and emotions. Some parents opt to teach their child a formal sign language, like American Sign Language (ASL), while others might create a unique system of gestures customized to their child's needs and abilities.

Introducing sign language or a personalized gesture-based communication system to your child can greatly help them express themselves more effectively. As a result, both you and your child can experience less frustration, paving the way for a smoother communication process
Read More: What Is a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)?

Sign Language: A Hands-On Way to Communicate

Ever wondered, “Can nonverbal autism understand sign language?” Sign language is indeed a powerful way for children with nonverbal autism to communicate their thoughts and emotions. Some parents opt to teach their child a formal sign language, like American Sign Language (ASL), while others might create a unique system of gestures customized to their child’s needs and abilities.

Introducing sign language or a personalized gesture-based communication system to your child can greatly help them express themselves more effectively. As a result, both you and your child can experience less frustration, paving the way for a smoother communication process

Can nonverbal autism understand? A mother hugs her son close to her.
Read more: Can Nonverbal Autism Kids Learn to Speak?

A World Beyond Words: Understanding Nonverbal Signals

Communication is more than just words; it also involves nonverbal signals such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Learning how your child communicates without speaking can help you better understand their emotions and needs.

  • Echolalia: Some kids with nonverbal autism may repeat phrases or sounds they’ve heard before (known as echolalia). This could be an attempt at communication or simply a form of self-stimulation.
  • Gestures & body movements: Watch your child’s physical actions for clues about what they’re trying to express โ€“ are they pointing at something? Are they covering their ears?

Paying attention to any subtle changes in facial expressions or eye contact can provide valuable insight into your child’s emotional state, even if many children on the spectrum struggle with making eye contact or showing typical facial expressions.

A close-up image of an adult demonstrating a speech sound, featured on the best tablet for kids by Goally for AAC learning

Goally | Teach Kids AAC & Core Words

Is your child facing challenges in expressing themselves or communicating effectively? Goally’s language apps support their journey in building essential communication skills! All of these apps are included our skill-building tablet made for kids.

Goally's AAC Talker app and Word Lab app displayed on 2 Goallys. There's text that reads "Teach AAC and Core Words."

The Word Lab and AAC Talker apps provide a simple, engaging platform for your child to learn core words and become a functional communicator right from the start. Customize the experience with a voice that suits them, and watch as their confidence grows in expressing their thoughts and needs!

But we don’t stop there. Our Balloon App helps build the skills needed to use AAC by engaging your child with fun, interactive “pop the balloons” exercises. It’s a game-changer for kids who need that extra boost in communication.

Bridging the Gap Through Understanding & Patience

The question “Can nonverbal autism understand?” has been answered positively for many neurodivergent kids. By learning how to communicate effectively with your child and exploring alternative ways of expression, you can build a stronger bond and help them navigate the world around them. Remember that patience, understanding, and love are key ingredients in creating a nurturing environment for your child’s growth and development.

This post was originally published on 04/18/2023. It was updated on 10/12/2023.

Article by
Goally Logo
Goally

We help parents teach their kids life skills, like doing bedtime and morning independently. Backed by science, we incorporate evidence-based practices and expert-informed designs in all of our apps and content.