Comments & Discussion

Boston University moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (EST) and can only accept comments written in English.

There are 24 comments on Unlocking Emily’s World

  1. Great article. I have mental illness myself, although not as severe. I am a COM grad from 1994 and your staffer, Amy Laskowski, laid the possible groundwork for a story on me. I am an author and a photographer with the hopes of helping mentally ill people, understand the world at the level they can and to get the most out of life.

  2. God bless the workers who are coming with new ways of helping the Autistic to be verbal. I am a father of 4 year old high function Autistic. Has delayed speech and picking up. But many time I feel frustrated. Hope medical science will come up with a cure that will make special kinds Independent.

  3. Amazing article. Thank you so much for sharing. My son is 8 told, minimally verbal & his speech therapist forwarded me your link I’m glad she did.
    Truly inspiring Work, I hope we will see the fruits of it soon & give our children a voice.
    Best of luck my dear Emily.
    Asmaa mom to Bader ❤️

  4. my granddaughter is 5 +.she can hardly say few words.very much like Emily. i wish to know each and every progress medical science is making in delayed speech autism .good luck.

  5. Thank you! So many of us are desperate for answers. Our children are frustrated with not being able to communicate their wants, dislikes, illness, and thoughts. Wishing you much success in this research!

  6. This is a great article. My 4 year old son is newly diagnosed on the spectrum but we knew for a while prior to the official diagnosis. He was verbal up until 2 years old but started regressing and now will only say a word every once in a while. This article gives me hope in the advances in treatment and options for the future. Thank you!

  7. Thank you so much for this important research. My son has DS & at 3yo started saying words & signing a lot. By the end of the year it was all gone & he was dx. W/ASD. No talking or signing. He’s 7 & has three words & a few signs now but I dream of the day he’ll talk again. Good luck in your research.

  8. Our daughter is an 8 year-old autistic child with minimal speech as well. Emily reminds me so much of her! Thank you for this article, and thank you to the parents and children who volunteered to participate in this study. Knowing that research is being conducted on understanding the process of the brain and how it relates to their speech gives me hope! In my heart I truly believe that someday, our children WILL get an opportunity to speak again! Thank you so much.

  9. I have Asperger’s Syndrome which is now autistic spectrum disorder. I disagree with this move in the DSM 5 because I believe it works to further marginalize those with non-verbal or minimally verbal autism. Since language acquisition and use has such a well understood neurological foundation, it seems like it should be a no brainer to me to study non-verbal or minimally verbal individuals in depth. I believe the mental health and neuropsychiatric fields have shyed away from doing so because there is no money in it and they can’t feign improvements in behavior or functioning as a result of their therapies in people with profound autism like they can with those on the higher end of the spectrum who’s improvements are often the result of their own spontaneous neurological development. It’s no secret that so many people study psychology because it’s one of the easiest fields to major in and most medical students who go in to psychiatry do so because it’s the least medically oriented of the medical fields that still allows them to call themselves medical doctors. Ask yourself why are there both psychiatrists and neurologists? Why is the brain the only organ that is divided between specialties where some of it’s disorders are treated as tangible and some intangible? Why are other organs not treated in the same manner? The answer is simple . Because one cannot get away with such bullsh!tery with other organs because people would die.

  10. I love this article. Great info and it really gives hope to parents such as myself, having a child who is autistic and non verbal. My question is, are they or will they conduct studies with younger children?

  11. Great article. My son is 6 yrs old. He is also diagnosed as autistic. He only knows some words. Never called me daddy or mommy to his mom but I noticed that he would say daddy or mommy himself. Most of the time he makes noises and laughing himself move his hand on the air. As a parent we really get frustrated. Now a days he pushes his 2yrs sister and throwing stuff towards her. If I raise my voice he would come to me and atack me. We really worry about my son. And at the same time we hope he will talk one day.

  12. My grandson is 2 and has symptoms of autistism. He tries to talk and having trouble with his speech. He was fine when he was a baby and when he was 1, everything just changed after he turned 2. He communicates well it’s just him talking. I hope and pray that we all find answers so all our kids can verbally talk and communicate well.

  13. Im a provider To an autistic 13year old her name is Emily and Im always talking to her and shes picking up a few words. The other day I told her to say her sisters name and she did the feeling is so unexplainable I get all excited and hug her Shes a non verbal autistic but I know its not impossible

    1. Many parents are scared of the thought that something might be “wrong” with their child. Often that results in denial too see or accept any symptoms. So a careful approach is needed, just suggesting that she might consider the possibility.

      The important thing for her to realize is that its not harmful or dangerous to consider the possibility that her child has autism.
      What is harmful is to ignore the possibility.
      If her child do not have autism there has been no harm in checking it, only a consideration less to think about.
      If her child has autism its crucial to find out as early as possible.

      I am a father of a boy with infantile autism. I am forever grateful to the person in kinder garden that suspected it and talked with me about it.
      She asked if I wanted an observation of him, then a specialist team to evaluate him. Because of that person my son got an early diagnose at the age of 2, giving the opportunity for an early start of a training program. Now a year and a half later he has improved significantly on many things he struggled with before. If we hadn’t been aware of his condition, his outcome would have been far worse.
      There is no cure for autism but it is possible to enhance the prospects and development. The earlier you start the better the chances are for improvement.
      It is hard to get a diagnose for your child. Your world turns upside down.
      But when you have a child with autism, that awareness and diagnose also change your world to the better.
      It can be difficult to approach the subject but it is important that you do.
      Wish you, your daughter and your grandchild the best.

  14. A great article in understanding minimally verbs kids. My son is 5 and is minimally verbal. If only I could understand what he wants.. I would give the world to him.
    We are with you Emily !!

  15. I would just like to offer words of encouragement to you all. Your little angel appreciates all that you do. Just by being kind and patient with them makes them feel loved and understood.

    However, I would also urge those of you with children fast approaching age 8, get as much help for your child NOW. The inability to communicate with the world is heartbreaking for them and research suggests that if they are not communicating (not saying o e or two words), by age 8, the likelihood that they will ever engage in reciprocal communication diminishes significantly every year past age 8.

    Believe in your heart that autism is a blessing. They make us better as human beings. I believe God gave us these angels so that we know perfect love.

    If you are interested in reading the first two position papers written on autism from 1926, please visit

    My daughter has autism. She was non verbal. Today she can talk (reciprocal conveesations), read, and write. When she was diagnosed we were told she should be in a center.

    I never stopped believing in her.

  16. My son is 18. He is a non-verbal. I must say, I still have hope I’ll hear him call me mom one day. He completed his formal schooling and I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for him. I worry. Is there a break-through in the experiment?

    1. Thanks for your question, Rachel. Here is a response from Helen Tager-Flusberg:

      We have made progress in understanding some of the reasons individuals with ASD don’t acquire spoken language. These include: problems with imitation, problems in processing sounds, especially when there is more than one set of sounds in the environment, and profound speech-motor impairments. For each person the reasons might be different. Promising interventions in younger children are those that target these problems. But we still have a great deal to learn as work on this important topic has only just begun.

    2. Rachel,

      Your son can remain in high school until age 22! Check with your local school district. If you don’t feel he is ready to be out in the world and still needs structure (which would also help you emotionally because he will be at school for 6 hours each day), re-enroll him in school.

      Per federal law, he has a right to be in school until age 22.

  17. Hello everyone,

    I would like to send words of encouragement to you regarding your non verbal/minimal verbal child and share my daughter’s story.

    My daughter was non-verbal as a child. She said only a handful or words and would babble, have giggle fits, wiggle, tremble, have violent outbursts, fight, kick, punch, elope, run towards sunlight, collect, and the list goes on and on.

    Today, my daughter can read 100wpm, think critically, engage in sustained reciprocal conversations, solve grade level math problems, ect…

    When she was diagnosed I was told to put her in a center and that her autism was so severe it was coupled with mental retardation (a term we no longer use but at that time that was the language).

    At that time I knew that if we didn’t make significant gains by age 8, she might be lost forever. The only way your child will make gains is through the collaborative IEP process and pairing your child with an expert teacher whose sole focus is autism.

    Intensive intervention and an autism focused pedagogical approach is the only way. I know because I went back to school to become an expert in the field of special education and autism so that I could teach my child the things I was told she would never learn due to her severe diagnosis.

    I wish you hope and love on this journey. Impossible is nothing.

Post a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *