The “Non Verbal” Speech Contest Finalist

The people who diagnose your child with autism have all these tests and forms and things to fill out.  They ask you a million question and somehow your answer becomes and number.  Then they have a chart to see where your child lands developmentally.  Typical, delayed and “retarded”….that’s what the doctor called it.  There was this big black line and if you dipped below you had a retardation in whatever he was testing you on.

Silas’ first speech assessment was inconclusive.  All the pictures that she wanted him to describe or talk about had little tiny numbers in the bottom corner.  After a frustrating time of Silas trying to identify each number and the therapist trying to get him to look at the picture and not the number, Silas walked to the other side of the room and started smashing his head against the wall.

“Well he’s not assessable, but I don’t have a doubt he has autism.”

The final day of assessments, the Doc went over his findings.  Classic high functioning autism with a retardation in speech.  Gosh that was weird to hear.  It didn’t make any sense to me as he was talking, it was echolalia but he was talking.

I was never the kind of mom to take a diagnosis and think that was a life sentence.  I’ve never ever ever ever ever doubted in my mind that Silas will one day be living on his own, living a completely full and functional life.  I don’t see him in assisted living, I don’t see him living with us, I see him independent.  Maybe I’m kidding myself but I believe in the power of thoughts and intentions and I definitely believe in the law of attraction…AKA happy thoughts!!  We are shooting for gold.

I don’t think Silas ever intended on being “non verbal”, he intended on speaking and his wiring was such that speech started to come.  It was a mixture of his will and ability + parental dedication to the speech plan + amazing therapists + good intentions + supplements (MannaBears from Mannatech seemed to be a catalyst for his speech explosion).

Six months after the doctor told me about how my son will never talk and all that nonsense, I brought him back to that same speech therapist who couldn’t assess him.  Silas sat through that assessment and did everything she said.  On her chart he came out “typical” in every area other than expressive language.  He knew his words, he understood, his vocabulary was actually advanced.  Poo on you doctor who told me he would never talk, you’re a nice man but you were also wrong.

From that point Silas’ speech has gotten better and better and better.  Ya there’s still some areas that are hard for him in expressing himself.  He still doesn’t know what to say sometimes or will say things funny.  I hardly notice because I’m his momma and it just sounds like Silas language.

Any parent of a child with autism ends up learning their language, so much so that they don’t even notice they’re hearing or speaking a special language anymore.

Recently Silas’ school had a speech contest.  Every child from grade 1-7 has to take part.  First they compete against their own grade, then they choose three children to represent each grade and then there’s a final competition in front of the school.

The reason they do this competition is extremely amazing.  They know that most adults worst fear is public speaking and most of those people with that fear WISH they would have done it more at a young age.

I was super nervous about this, I wasn’t sure if Silas would be willing to memorize a speech and if he would be able to take it seriously enough.  Of course I hardly had to go over it with him before he had it completely memorized, which was good because he was definitely unwilling to practice it.

Despite his lack of practice, the day of the preliminary competition Silas came out of classes and told me HE WON!!!  Are you kidding me???????  Silas and two other children had been chosen to represent the grade 1’s!!

Seriously now, he could have very well won an Oscar by the way I felt.  There were many tears, many memories thinking about to three years ago when they told me he wouldn’t talk, now he’s winning speech competitions?  It was fantastic.

On the day of the finals I was a bit nervous, way more nervous than Silas was.  I kinda forgot the sensory issues that came along with him being in his school gym.

Often, at school concerts, he’s there with tired looking eyes, rubbing them over and over and zoning out completely.  That was the case again for him and he didn’t end up winning.  I hadn’t ever seen the poor child so overwhelmed yet keeping it together yet completely exhausted from input.  He was still adorable.

It was a good reminder to bring me back down to earth, this child will always have autism and although the negative aspects of his symptoms have really lessened, he still has autism, he still will struggle, we still need to keep fighting.

That aside, I couldn’t have been more proud.  I am still beaming with delight at the speech competition finalist whom the doctors said would never speak.




  1. Your post gave me that happy feeling that I got when I watched the movie Miracle Run (the one with the Autistic twins),and the one ran the race and came in first. I cried so much as he ran that race. I just kept saying, “You run, honey. You run!”
    Okay, now I’m crying a bit.
    Cameron has always had advanced speech; he simply had no “reality” conversation for a long time. At the age of 5, he had the verbal skills of at least an 8 year old, but none of the words were his own.
    My heart still soars when he comes up to me and says words that are not learned from television and repeated verbatim. I waited so long to hear them!

    1. *sigh* isn’t it lovely? Silas has a lot of “prerecorded” phrases that he says, thankfully they’re all quite cute. My favourite being “I’ve got my eye on you” when he’s mad. 🙂

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