Ten Seconds That Prove You Should Never Underestimate A Non-Verbal Autistic Child. 

People don’t expect much of my son. 

Speech and language therapists have all but given up on him, encouraging me to just accept he is non-verbal with limited understanding.

School take him on ‘environmental excursions’ rather than reading and writing because…well he can’t hold a pencil despite having been in school for four and a half years so he is never going to read and write is he?

The learning difficulties mental health team wrote to us explaining his challenging behaviour and long spells of screaming are just part of his complex diagnosis and are unlikely to change.

The public looks down on him in distaste.

Children his own age mock him in parks and soft plays when they see he can’t talk and is still wearing nappies.

Even as his mum I sometimes find myself wondering what the future holds.

It is easy to understand why. My son has a long list of diagnosis all of which are life-long conditions. He development is years and years behind what is ought to be and he requires support for all his personal care. He is a non-verbal severely autistic 8 year old who is still very much living in his own world. 

Well that is what I thought too. That is until I happened to turn my iPad video recorder on this evening while he was playing with his iPad. What I captured changed everything.

He had been handing me his iPad on and off for the last half hour. He was pressing the ‘google’ app wanting me to type things in to let him scroll though images. It was exhausting trying to guess what he wanted to look at with no eye contact, no words to tell you and no clues. In the end, frustrated myself, I handed him the tablet back and said ‘Isaac google something?’ I never for a minute even thought he would understand let alone google something so incredible it had me in tears:

He clicked on the search button and within seconds he pressed the ‘i’, quickly followed by ‘s’, then without hesitation he pressed the ‘a’ right beside it twice, before pausing for a few seconds then finishing his search with a ‘c’. In total it took less than 10 seconds for him to prove you should never underestimate anyone!

He just typed out his own name and I had no idea he even knew it let alone how to spell it!

The speech therapists may be right about him not speaking but he clearly understands far more than they realised.

School thought he would never be able to read and write…well he may not be able to hold a pencil cold but he just wrote his name using a keyboard on an iPad so who know what else he may be able to type?

The learning difficulties health team may be right about his behaviour being part of his comprehensive and complex diagnosis but what if so much of it is frustration at understanding but unable to communicate back?

Maybe this ten second video may help the public see that you can not judge anyone by lack of speech or lack of eye contact or lack of social skills. 

It only took my son ten seconds but in that ten seconds he has proved to so many that we must never, ever underestimate anyone, especially those with non verbal severe autism.

Does my son still have difficulties? Absolutely. Should I ‘not expect too much of him’? Never!

Behind the flapping, you tube on repeat, screaming exterior is a brain hard at work piecing things together in his own way in his own time. 
People don’t expect much of my son: I do. He just showed me why.


20 thoughts on “Ten Seconds That Prove You Should Never Underestimate A Non-Verbal Autistic Child. 

  1. Fantastic, what a clever, clever boy. I never thought my Autistic Son would read and he proved me so wrong, still quite basic books at 15 but I treasure every word. Reach for the stars Isaac xx

    Liked by 1 person

      • My son hid ha abilities till he was 8 or 9, I knew from tech toys and magnetic drawing boards that he could write and he appeared to read pages so quickly no one thought he would be so digesting info from The pages..
        he is still at nearly 17 severely autistic and has adhd. But he has come a million miles since the days that no one believed he’x ever talk. I did home Salt with him with pecs. His speech is limited but he tried bless him ❤️ Good luck Hun don’t ever give up xx


  2. Well done Isaac! I have an 8yr old with autism and cerebral palsy who is non verbal and I have spent most of this year trying to get professionals to see that he understands more than it appears. He has never spelt his name like that but I don’t doubt he might be able to in his head. Have you read Ido in Autismland? If not, I really suggest you should, it’s about a 7yr old non verbal child who suddenly started spelling things – http://idoinautismland.com/. Also, you could try Rapid Prompting Method – http://www.rapidpromptingmethod.co.uk/. We haven’t succeeded with it yet because our son has a high level of demand avoidance but it might be worth a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello, I have a 4 years old boy on the spectrum and the below iOS application assisted in helping him to speak.

    I have only found it available for iOS.


    I chose to add my own photos (real images) not stock images and record my voice (his father). I added photo’s of the daycare provider/teacher, the other children (with parent permission), images of family members, food, locations, animals, Cars characters. It does take time to add these and keep up to date, but it was well worth it.

    I know there are other more complex applications, but perhaps it is the intimacy of his father voice and real images that allowed his to connect with the app and have him start to repeat on his own.

    The App is FREE.


  4. Well done Isaac

    I work with Nonverbal people and they do have good receptive language; it’s just that the words are trapped inside and can’t come out so they struggle one hundred percent with expressive language.

    They have all found a way to communicate it’s just a matter or verbal people learning the individual languages

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Please, please, please, for Isaac’s sake, check out Rapid Prompting Method or Facilitated Communication or some other form of spelling to communicate, You will probably learn that Isaac is quite smart, trapped in a body that doesn’t allow him to communicate with the outside world. I thought my now 19-year-old son was incapable of intelligent thought until the past year or so, and he has proven to be smarter than me if given the proper communication support. Try this group for starters: https://www.facebook.com/groups/627199673958985/ Best of luck, and I am praying for you and Isaac!


  6. Are you aware of the 2 books by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump and Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8? He is a non verbal autistic young man that made me think totally differently about non verbal young people, they’re really interesting and inspiring. Translated by the author David Mitchell whose son has autism and he has been interviewed about them a lot too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Ten Seconds That Prove You Should Never Undersestimate A Non-Vebral Child | Special Needs Resource Blog

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