January 10, 2019

A few times, I’ve lost my ability to speak. It only happens during the most intense emotions (good or bad), and never lasts long.

But this “selective mutism” has shown me, very briefly, what it feels like to be nonverbal. It’s enough to make me wonder what life would be like if I ever lost my voice permanently, from autism or some other cause.

If I did, I hope with all my heart that my family and friends would never stop trying to communicate with me. I hope they would keep experimenting with different methods, to find one that lets me truly express myself.

When I can’t speak, I can usually write on a whiteboard. If not that, maybe I could type. If not that, maybe I could use sign language. If not that, maybe I could point to words or pictures. If not that, maybe I could find another way.

I’ve read stories of autistics who couldn’t communicate for many years, then finally found a way that worked for them. People always seem surprised at how much they’ve been hearing, and how deeply they’ve been thinking, for so long.

If you know autistics who can’t speak, please remember that their brains are like the autistics in those stories, full of things to tell.

Their brains are like mine.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.