Many autistic people have motor differences that change how we talk. We use our muscles to talk, but our muscles don’t always work the way we want them to. This can make talking hard.
We have to figure out what we want to say, and how to make sounds with our mouth. We might not always know how, and even if we do, we might not be able to.

Some of us might hear differently, which can make it hard to figure out the right sounds to use. Figuring out the words we want can be hard, too. We might need to plan out what we want to say, and it can take us a while. People aren’t always patient with us, and we might not be able to find the words we want at all!

Starting or stopping talking can be hard, since our muscles might not work when we need them to. We can’t always talk when we want to, and we can’t always stop talking when we want to.

All of this can change how autistic people talk. For example, many autistic people can’t control our voices. We may talk too loud or too soft, or mumble or sound like we’re singing when we talk.

Some people can’t talk some or all of the time. Sometimes, this is because motor skills make it hard, but there might be other reasons. Lots of people don’t think in words, or we might have anxiety that makes talking hard. There are all sorts of reasons.

People who don’t talk are non-speaking. Here are a few examples of what a non-speaking person might look like:

  • A person who has not talked at all in their whole life
  • A person who talked as a kid but can’t anymore
  • A person who can talk sometimes, but writes words instead of talking

These are only some examples of what being non-speaking might look like! Some people are non-speaking as kids, but learn to talk later in life. Some people talk sometimes and not other times.

We don’t know exactly how many autistic people are non-speaking. Right now, we think that about 1 out of 3 autistic people are non-speaking.