I cut off bite sized chunks of my anchovy and tomato sandwich as I contemplate. Junior contents himself with a book, “Alphabet Mystery.” Part of the trouble with the label 'non-verbal' is that in many instances, it isn't what it seems to be. By non-verbal, one assumes that the person in question, does not communicate with words, or alternatively, communicating with words is not their first choice. The latter definition, vague though it may be, would be a better description of the kind of speech delay that my boys have. Senior's speech is more halting or sporadic, interspersed with long periods of silence. Fortunately those periods of silence are much shorter that a few years back.

Back then, a day or two might pass without a word being uttered.

He'd communicate by gesture or mime. It did worry me, [very much] because when he did 'chose' to speak, he used long words, way beyond what might expect from a child so young. You doubt me? I do too to be frank, and obviously I can't recall his lines verbatim, but this would be a rough quote;
'I like Tyrannosaurus Rexes but I prefer [yes, 'prefer' not 'like better'] Lambiosaurus because they are herbivores, but you can call them plant eaters if you like.'

The echolalia was a different issue. [translation = simply put, an ability to repeat long sentences exactly like an echo]

This is why I take such an unnatural amount of pleasure when they do choose to speak. [translation = in between the times that I'm begging for them all to be quiet, of course.] It's also part of the reason that I have become so sneaky and underhand, as I tip toe about trying to ear wig. Generally speaking, if you hear some unusual speech pattern emerging, or rather 'being voiced' it's handy to have a quick check list available so that you don't get your hopes up too high too fast. Firstly you should run a scan over all media input that they have been exposed to in the last six months, as it is highly likely that they're just repeating some fascinating line that they've picked up and are now perseverating upon. [translation = probably the most annoying of annoying new phrases] So when you hear your child 'talking' get as close as you can without being visible and then run through the following options.
The rules of the 'non' verbal
– talk to an imaginary friend or person but not in a pretend manner [highly unlikely]
– talk to somebody, a real person [possible and probable in some instances]
– talk to a 'thing' / 'something,' that is technically inadequate, but not in a pretend manner [ more likely]
– don't talk at all [ most likely]

I would hope that this tick sheet would save you a lot of disappointment.
Meanwhile, in conclusion we can say that speech delays, when coupled with autism, make a heady mix for the unwary and naïve, such as myself. Speech therapy and professional teachers, make no end of headway with both my boys. It may well be true, that the subtle nuances of the English language will always escape them………………………….…excuse me, someone is poking me in the ribs…………….
“Don't do that dear it hurts!”
“Sorree, but I am needing your hand.” I give him my hand, but he starts scribbling on it with a felt pen. [translation = marker]
“Don't do that you big mucker.”
“I not 'mucker' I 'writer.'”
“What is it that you're trying to write and why do you want to write it on my hand?”
“I am wanting to write 'x's because you smell too badly to have kisses.”

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