October 27, 2023

You may have heard of intermittent speech, where a person can speak at some times and not others. But have you heard of insufficient speech?

The term was new to me until I found a paper about the benefits of AAC – including low-tech AAC like writing or sign language – for autistic adults who can speak.

The paper says, “In insufficient speech, a person’s oral speech agrees with their knowledge and beliefs, but does not fully meet their communication needs. That is, the person can speak orally and accurately, but not completely.”

In other words, speaking isn’t enough. “Insufficient” may sound negative, but what it literally means is “not enough.”

The term may have been new to me, but the experience sure isn’t! Ever since I could write, I’ve found it easier than speaking. And sometimes, especially for emotional topics, writing is the only clear and comprehensive way to share my thoughts.

I’ve been treating writing as a form of AAC when I can’t speak, which does happen sometimes. But now I’m starting to see all my writing as a form of AAC, because it’s an alternative way to communicate – and it augments my ability to communicate well.

The paper is “Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Speaking Autistic Adults: Overview and Recommendations” by Alyssa Hillary Zisk and Elizabeth Dalton. It can be read in full here.

P.S. Happy AAC Month! 🙂

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.