Language for Non-Verbal Children: Patience and Determination

Imagine wanting to say something very badly but being unable to express? Imagine being imprisoned by your own language deficiencies? Having no one understand how to deal with your inability to communicate? This problem is prevalent in children so they cry and become violent.

A parent expressed concern over her non-verbal four-year-old child. He was becoming increasingly violent towards himself and others. The habit was becoming worse by the day. This was coupled with laughter. From the point of view of the parent and other caretakers, it seemed like the boy was only growing naughtier. This might have been met with punishment for his behavior. 

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Here is a thought, how about looking deeper than the behavior. Find the root. Non-verbal children tend to get frustrated at their inability to communicate like everyone else. They have messages to convey and needs to ask but cannot because they are unable to use language as a tool for communication. This results in erratic behavior that could easily be construed as misbehavior. It is best for one to try to address the underlying issue, which is inability to use language. 

Imagine a bottle of water. It is sealed. You know there is water but no idea how to access it. There is no ca to unscrew therefore the next best thing is piercing a hole. Once the first drop trickles down, it becomes easier. This is the same principle as outlined in the book Uniquely Normal: Tapping the Reservoir of Normalcy to Treat Autism. The language is in there but one has to find a way to access the very first drop. Sort of like a gateway word. The child needs to understand the concept of language so that they can unravel it.

The book gives many examples. The first being that of a non-verbal girl who liked to water a plant. One day she was handed an empty watering jar. After a few seconds, she found a way to express the situation in one word: empty. This was then the first of many words to come. A regular normal situation was used to uncover the linguistic ability of the child.

This brings to light another aspect of approaching the issue of non-verbal children. Patience. It really is a virtue. One that is needed by anyone dealing with a non-verbal child. Uniquely Normal: Taping the Reservoir of Normalcy to Treat Autism insists on patience. The frustration from such behavioral tendencies is understandable but still, one should be patient. 

Children learn words by hearing other people use them over and over. The first word of a child can only be “mum” or “dad” if there are siblings in the house constantly calling their parents. The child then starts repeating the words and by that process learns how to speak. Non-verbal children can be treated in the same way. Once they have uttered the first word befitting of the situation, the rest will fall into place. That will have been the first drop.

The children get encouraged to learn more and speak more because the possibility of being understood excites them. They have found language and are now free from the shackles of repressed linguistic ability. 

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