Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Being Non-Verbal

In high-stress and high emotion situations, I often lose the ability to speak.  This is intensely frustrating because I want to talk and I'm fully aware of what is going on around me, but can't.  It seems like the connection between my brain and mouth has shut off.

Most of the time, I can't fully speak as a neurotypical person can.  I can carry a conversation and alert people to things, do all the normal communicative tasks, but I am unable to say things on my mind without being prompted.  Once asked what I'm thinking about or how I'm feeling, I can normally say what was being thought, but without it, I can't unless it's absolutely necessary.

Today is one of those days where I can't speak and it's a struggle to communicate my needs to the people I'm staying with.  Luckily they haven't been pressing me much, but when I'm trying to explain something, like the fact that I have a headache, it's frustrating.  I imagine this is how a lot of people with kinds of autism which impairs the ability to speak feel - there are clear thoughts and needs and a lot of frustration over not being able to speak.

Luckily things like PECS exist, allowing those who can't speak on their own to tell others what's going on with them.  I still have the ability to write and have been doing so to explain the more complex things, but for the most part remain silent.

It's not a silence to be pitied.  While I don't choose the silence normally, I'm used to it.  I can explain what needs to be said and occasionally whisper something.  In time, this too shall pass.

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