There was a post I read earlier today that inquired about the difference between pre-verbal and non-verbal. I wasn’t going to respond to it because I could have written a book on my thoughts, but then I said eff it, that is what I am in those groups for and have this page/blog, to share my thoughts and feelings on all things Autism. For myself, I generally think of my son Aidan, as being pre-verbal. I don’t use the term all that much because many outside the Autism community (and a few inside) don’t understand what I mean by that and I spend a lot of extra time explaining myself and in the end, all they really want to know is can he actually speak words.
Pre-verbal is a term I am seeing a lot more of and not a lot of people understand what it means…and from my experience, it has taken on several different meanings. For some, I have found that they prefer pre-verbal to nonverbal because they hold out on the hope that their child(ren) may one day speak. And for others, like myself, I have come to grips with the idea that my son may never speak words, but I feel that just because one cannot verbalize their thoughts doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to communicate. My son makes a variety of noises, and there are different sounds and pitches for different needs and varying moods. Essentially pre-verbal communication is the sending of an intentional, purposeful message to another partner. This can be achieved through an eye gaze, a vocalization of some kind, pointing or some other gesture, etc. rather than relying on a string of words to communicate. My son cannot yet speak words however he communicates through a variety of other methods (pecs, pointing, gestures, hand leading, shaking his head no, etc.), those are all examples of pre-verbal communication. So all in all, preverbal basically means (to me), that while one does not (yet) verbally communicate with words, they may be able to do so in other ways.
So, there you have it, lol. I will use the term “pre-verbal” more often when describing Aidan, and I’m okay if I spend the few extra minutes explaining why.