Autism and the Gray Area Between Being Verbal and Non Verbal

BY: - 10 Jun '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

Has anyone ever asked you if your child with autism was verbal? If your child can hold a conversation or even ask and answer questions, then you probably said that your child was verbal. If your child has no words at all, then you probably said that your child was non verbal.

My six-year old son, Angel who was diagnosed with autism at age four falls in the gray area. This is the area between verbal and nonverbal. He has very limited communication skills. When he first started early intervention at age two, it was because we were concerned that he was not speaking. Back then, we did not know that he was on the autism spectrum.

Now he scripts, sings, and can make requests for things that he wants. He asks by saying the name of what he wants or he may point to it and say: I want __________. When he is frustrated, he whines, cries, and trashes on the floor. This is life in the gray area. My son communicates through his actions when he cannot access the words he needs to express how he feels.

When people ask me if Angel is verbal, I can never give them a straight yes or no. I feel that saying yes gives them a false sense that he will meet their communication expectations. I also feel that saying no does not give Angel credit for what he can say. Calling him verbal without any explanation can be misleading.

Angel gets speech therapy at school and he has come a long way since his early intervention days. He struggles with expressing himself, but this is to be expected with his autism diagnosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals with autism have different ways of communicating. “Some people can speak well. Others can’t speak at all or only very little. About 40% of children with an [autism spectrum disorder] ASD do not talk at all.”

We recently met with an assistive technology specialist to start working on how we can help Angel access more language to communicate. We intend to load and label photos of everyday objects onto his Ipad. Our goal is to give him more words to be able to communicate independently. For now, we will do our best to help him access as much language as he can.

People on the autism spectrum share a common diagnosis but their ability to be verbal, non verbal or in between can vary. My child has an autism diagnosis but his communication skills or lack thereof can’t be forced into a box.

BMWK: How do you respond when asked if your child is verbal or nonverbal?

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.


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3 Reasons Why I’m Teaching Abstinence to My Teenager

BY: - 11 Jun '14 | Parenting

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Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. How in the world could you possibly think that your son/daughter will remain a virgin until marriage? Well, the answer to that is, I don’t know. I simply do not. What I DO know is that children absorb and feed off of what you say to them and how you live your life. They also know at an early age, what’s important to you as parents: grades, education, religion, material things, etc. So, TEACHING and STRESSING that it’s really important for them to wait is no different than you stressing the importance of not texting while driving. Think about it. The bottom line is that you can’t live your life a certain way and spring this type of thing on them. There has to be an undertone that this is an expectation and that it should be an internal desire to do what is right.

I know a lot of people might feel like it’s completely and utterly absurd to try and stress the importance of abstinence or waiting until marriage to have sex. Well, if that’s how you feel, you have every right. We all have our own opinions of how we should raise our children. And, yes, even in this fast-moving, hyper-sexual, “everything at your fingertips” day and age, I still have my reasons why I’m teaching abstinence to my teenager. Here are 3 of them:


One of the reasons why I’m teaching abstinence is, it reinforces the importance of our faith and Christian values. Before you start having these types of sex talks, you probably should have been having other types of talks to your children like, “It’s actually OK to stand out.” “Your Christian walk will make things harder for you than others.” “The road to salvation is always the lesser traveled one.” You get the point. So, by the time you’re ready to have these talks, its actually only a bit of reinforcement of what is being taught all the while.

They are not alone

Another reason why I’m teaching abstinence is, I’m trying to lay  the foundation for our growing young adults to have a conscience. I need them to know that it’s important to wait because there are other young people out their who share the same values and beliefs as they do!

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

I feel that they need to know that with premarital sex comes a lot of responsibilities. Issues like unplanned pregnancies, premature parenthood and tough decisions about the future are just a few. Don’t forget about the life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases for which there are no cures. We all want what’s best for our kids and basically – ain’t nobody got time for that!

Let’s be real. I can preach this ’til I’m blue in the face, if they wanna do it…they’re gonna do it. I at least want my teenage children to know emphatically and whole-heartedly that it’s wrong. As their parent, I also accept the harsh reality that I have to teach the importance of safe sex. I don’t have to condone it, but I DO have to teach them be responsible and SAFE!

I’m not living with my head in the sand. I have looked at my son’s phone (which I do randomly) and some of the things that showed up in his social media timeline(s) BLEW MY MIND!! Some things that are out there for the world to see…Just ridiculous! Like I stated earlier, I’m blessed that my son and I have open communication about what’s important to him and how much his values and beliefs really mean, despite peer pressure. As a parent, if I want my [hormonal] teenager to wait, I need to encourage him/her to make this just as important to him/herself, as well as ways to keep their idle minds from the temptations of the world, that’s so easily accessible. It’s an extremely tough job, but I’m up for the challenge.

BMWK – Do you think it’ still possible to teach abstinence?

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


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