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2 reasons nonspeakers need extra processing time

autism parenting education homeschool Nov 29, 2023
nonverbal autism apraxia processing

Twice a week, Nonverbal Autism Homeschool families attend optional group Zoom meetings. Parents ask our special education mentor, Mr. Sims, for advice. They also talk amongst themselves in the chat section and provide support and advice to each other. It's a great community!

Last night, one parent suggested to another that the student be provided with enough time to process an academic question or request. That led to a robust discussion about reasons nonspeakers and minimal speakers need more processing time, which I'd like to share with you.

1. Motor planning. For those of us with neurotypical nervous systems, or even mild autism, focusing on steps required to complete simple motor tasks isn't required. However, for our apraxic students, picking up a manipulative object and placing it in the correct spot requires forethought and planning before even attempting the movement. Some students just need a few extra seconds, but others need up to a full minute to perform a gross or fine motor skill because of motor planning needs.

Nearly all apraxic students require a full demonstration of what is expected when introducing new curriculum. Errorless learning can reduce anxiety and shorten motor planning time required for verbal prompting only and eventual independent work.

2. Completers. About one-half of our students are what we call completers. Because of OCD and motor issues, students aren't able to move on until the current task is complete. For some, that looks like watching the entire YouTube video before willingly handing over the iPad to begin schoolwork. (I mean, who among us doesn't sit in the car, waiting for our favorite song to be over before going indoors?)

For other students, that looks like an inability to count out manipulatives, not because the student doesn't intellectually understand counting, but because their bodies won't stop until all are moved from one place to another.

We spend a lot of time discussing ways to accommodate completers and other challenges common to our students in our Zoom sessions. Nonverbal Autism Homeschool includes curriculum, lesson planning AND the support you need to successfully teach your nonspeaking or minimally speaking student. 

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