Going Nonverbal

Going Nonverbal

Many Asperger’s/Autistic individuals are non-verbal, or go non-verbal sometimes. I don’t go non-verbal as often as I’d like, but it’s difficult to fit into my life. I have very few opportunities to go utterly silent – mostly when I’m walking from one place of talking to another 😛

Sometimes, though, sometimes there are those rare glorious days where I can just be left alone for a solid eight to twelve hours.  Sometimes, less gloriously, there are the evenings where I tell my other half I need to go non-verbal. He’s usually ok with it, but he doesn’t enjoy it. Human beings, by nature, like to talk to each other, and he was probably looking forward to telling me about his day, or hearing about mine.

For me, going non-verbal is a similar sensation to flopping into bed after a long day or sinking into a hot bath with aching muscles. There is a certain instant emotional relief, but the true recuperation and rest still require time to take effect. It’s a way of resting overused mental muscles, of healing from the stresses of the day/week/month. It’s a way of taking myself out of the world for a few hours whilst I shake the (what feels like) broken glass out of my lungs (they’re just emotions, really, but they sure do hurt). It’s a way of soothing the frazzled, overstimulated senses. It’s a way of reducing my mental load by taking one task (socialising) off the table.

Of course it can’t last long. 24 hours at most. My life just isn’t set up for long term non-verbal communication. So I only go non-verbal in times of extreme stress.


Here are some other people’s descriptions of going nonverbal (that first link is Reddit, so be careful 😛 ). Some of them are more relatable than others, most of the one I identified with went something like this:

its weird, my mind wants to say something, but my body just doesn’t want to respond, its a little scary for me when it happens as there is usually nothing I can do about it

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I remember having times when I have the words in my brain, my mouth is opening and closing, but the words just don’t make it out.

Ironically, despite so much of allistic human communication supposedly being nonverbal, our world is just not easily set up for nonverbal communication. As this person describes it:

Because here is the problem in my everyday life: I usually talk just fine. So when I become nonverbal there is no way for anyone to automatically understand that I really cannot talk right now. People assume I chose not to speak. People assume I do not have anything to say or do not want to say anything. But that could not be further from the truth.

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Do any of you go – or are any of you are – nonverbal? Share your experiences below! How do you cope in situations where verbal communication is necessary?



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