Reminder that speaking / non-speaking isn't a strict binary. Some folks move between them over the course of a day, year, lifetime. There are times when it's important to specifically discuss one experience and not the other, but in general it's important to not dilute it to a
binary in which people are portrayed as 100% one or 100% the other. A lot of autistic folks are speaking AND non-speaking, just at different times and for various reasons. As with so many aspects of neurodivergence / disability, it's often more fluid than it's portrayed as.
I'm partially-verbal. My speech is what "goes" (stops being functional) the most often, but also sometimes my ability to communicate in other ways such as writing. I don't talk about it much (fitting) not particularly out of shame (though I think I do still have some) but because
I generally just don't have that much to say about it. There are a lot of aspects of being autistic that are very interesting to me; this just happens to be one that I'm not very focused on. That's ok; we don't have to detail every single experience we ever have.
Also, I'm in a bit of an odd situation in that, even outside of quarantine times, I have very few interactions with other people, so me being partially-speaking isn't that noticeable. If I was around other people a lot, it would probably be quite apparent if I didn't talk much,
even if it wasn't understood as a neurodivergent thing (I don't think it's just about being autistic for me; I think other aspects of my neurodivergence are involved too).
But because I'm on my own probably 98% or more of the time, I have no reason to speak anyway.
So, while I can often pick up on the internal feelings that go along with being non-speaking / non-verbal, there's no-one else around to notice it. Even when I can speak, I don't, because there's no-one around to speak to. So how verbal I am is, at this point in my life, only
recognisable to me, not to others, and is largely based on my awareness of my own internal experiences and that feeling of "Even if I had a reason to speak right now, I wouldn't be able to."
This is very different to most stories I see about folks' experiences with being
non-speaking, because generally they do interact with others on a day-to-day basis and them not talking is noticed.

Also, simply due to not being financially able to access it, I don't use things like AAC. In the past, I have gestured or used paper and pen, but mostly when I
stopped talking I would just go and hide away from people so I didn't have to deal with their questions and annoyance at me not talking. So even back when I did have frequent interactions with other people, me being non-speaking wasn't really noticed, because I hid it.
I don't really want to go into a lot of detail about all this right now, especially as I'm trying to give myself a bit of time off from engaging with all the Stuff happening. So I'm going to stop here. But I just wanted to express that people have a lot of different experiences
around being non-speaking / non-verbal: for some people, how verbal or vocal they are is fluid, and some of us may not "look non-speaking" as we might not use AAC and we might not interact with others when we're non-speaking.
Also, one thing I do want to make clear is that while there can be frustrating aspects of being non-speaking / non-verbal, portraying it as inherently tragic and 100% awful sucks. Sometimes I get annoyed or sad about it, but at other times it feels oddly peaceful and I don't mind
it at all. It really depends on whether I want to be communicating in those moments or not. If I have something to say but can't express it, that's frustrating. But if I had no plans on talking anyway and wanted some quiet time, being non-speaking doesn't take anything away.
Also, it's ok to prefer other kinds of communication to speaking! Whether you're able to speak or not, it's ok if you're not very fond of it and if you prefer to write, type, sign, use AAC, or anything else! Speech gets so prioritised, but society should make space for us all!
This is getting more attention than most of my stuff, so: I'm a disabled person really struggling to get by. If you're able to financially support me or to retweet the tweet linked below, I'd be immensely grateful. Thank you!
You can follow @AZelasi.
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