Non-verbal individuals cannot speak and therefore must rely on other means of communication. It is not uncommon for behavioural challenges to present when one is faced with the frustration of not having an effective means to express emotions or get thoughts/messages across to listeners. Basic forms of alternative communication include: sign language, gesturing, eye gaze, showing or pointing to pictures, pointing to a letter board, and/or writing. There are also a wide variety of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices which can assist individuals who are unable to express themselves verbally. Very low-tech devices consist of a single button, and high-tech devices have numerous buttons and screens full of information which can be accessed on a computer/tablet.
Non-verbal communicators vary significantly in terms of their ability to overcome the challenge of letting others know just how much they understand and exactly how intelligent they are. Very functional high-level communicators will be able to clearly express themselves and their complex thoughts. In contrast, very delayed/impaired individuals can essentially be “locked in” to themselves.
Qualified Speech-Language Pathologists can assess the individual's communication abilities and assist in determining the best means of communication based on those abilities.