“Will She EVER Talk?” Questions from a mom with twins with autism



Tonight I received this email from a mom desperate for advice. I’ve omitted her name, her children’s names, and the location to protect her anonymity, but I wanted to share her question because it’s the same one that many, many of you ask me everyday. Her question is here:
“I really really hope you can give me some advice as I don’t know what else to do. My name is *** and I live in ***. I am a mommy to my wonderful 3 years and a half twins who were diagnosed with autism when they were around 2 years old. I knew something was off especially when she stopped babbling after she turned 1 . She remained non verbal not even babble, but she makes noise and laughs and interacts with us.

My other twin always babbled and continued to do so but again not any real words. They also stopped responding to their names around that time. I got their hearing tested when they were 2 and one couldn’t hear at all and the other only had 20% hearing. They got tubes placed in and they are ok now hearing wise. The process here for early intervention is very delayed and we had to wait a year for them to be seen by a Doctor specializing in autism to assess them and diagnose them. She did see them in March before they got their tubes in June 2014. Since they got their tubes, one of our girls remains non verbal but makes a lot of noise and interacts with us and others, eye contact has improved however NO LANGUAGE at all.

I followed your advice and start at the bottom with eye contact and getting her to make noise but still no words. She is also very hyper child, on the move and loves physical activities. she will imitate some actions but not words or sounds. she loves spinning so I spin her on the floor on her back like a break dancer, I stop and then I showed her to more sign and she was able to do it right away – she is using that to request spinning…The point is that if there is something hugely motivating for her she will do it as she proved to me she can.

Our other child has a few words and I got her to say ball as her first real word by being animated and repeating it and showing it to her on a dvd and she repeated it right away…it was amazing, I cried.

We are doing speech and ABA therapy in the house, privately as they are on a waiting list for IBA and ABA which is free but the wait list is 2 years for ABA and 3 years for IBA which is ridiculous so in the meantime we are doing it privately at home only 6 hours as week as we cannot afford anymore.

We are working with a speech pathologist and I always ask this question – is our little girl going to talk EVER? Her play skills are great, but they are not apparently where they should be – she loves challenging things and I think basic play is too boring for her. I tried what you suggested for non verbal kids to play with them and tickle them and to illicit sounds from them – that is no problem she interacts and makes eye contact and laughs and plays and comes to us to request hugs and kisses and affection. I just don’t know what to do about language!

Our other child seems to be stuck at only 10 words. She does imitate sounds but not actions. She has low muscle tone and mouths almost any toy that has a round tip. She was seen by an OT and she thinks our child has some sensory issues. I’m not sure how this affects speech but her fine motor skills are not where they should be. She is also fixated on playing with string or anything that dangles and she stims on it – we all think its a visual sensory thing because she gets a kick out of it.

I’m so sorry for the long email I just don’t know what to do and no one here seems to have any idea of what’s going on.

Please help!”

Here was my response:

“Hi ****. You’ll have to keep building on those social games AND working on their cognitive skills in play AND helping them understand more words before you’re going to hear more words. Those pieces – the social interaction piece, cognition evidenced by more advanced play/interest in toys, and better language comprehension are the cornerstones of language development and until those pieces are better, consistently better, you won’t hear very many new words. Those pieces are also the hallmark of autism.

The good news is, you’ve seen some progress in all of those areas! Just keep at it! Expand those social games to the point where each girl is playing 10+ different games with you and learning to “do her part.” For example, signing “more” to continue her break dancing. (I love that by the way!) Try Ring Around the Rosies so that the 3 of you are playing together. Their part is holding hands and falling down. After they master that, make them pull you up to play again, or hide your hands behind your back so they have to grab you to play again. If you need more ideas, my book Teach Me To Play WITH You is full of those games. I don’t know if you’ve bought any products, but it’s one I would recommend you get TODAY : ) It’s the starting point for everything and it will be easy to see some progress with these things since you’ve had some initial success, but neither girl sounds like she’s mastered these kinds of interactions so start here.

The next thing is working on those cognitive skills with play. Are they using objects appropriately in play – feeding a doll, washing a doll’s face, putting the doll to sleep, etc…? If not, start there. If that’s too hard, back up to shape sorters, ring stackers, puzzles, etc… My guess is they are beyond that, but need help learning to use familiar objects functionally during play (first on themselves, then on you, then with a doll/character) and then beginning to sequence 2 to 3 actions in early pretend play. I have some older podcasts about that called Stages of Play that can give you some ideas. I’m also about to release a new book with DETAILED instructions for helping a child move on in play so keep your eyes out for that too.

As you’re working on those social games and play skills, you’ll also be targeting language comprehension which for your girls would be consistently following simple directions/commands during play and during daily routines. Are they throwing things away on request, putting their cups in the sink, getting their shoes when you ask them, finding toys like “Go get your ball,” etc… ? Be careful not to overestimate what they understand. If they don’t do it for you on request, chances are, they’re not really, really, really grasping what you mean when you give them a verbal direction. Get diligent about making sure they follow simple directions all day long with you. Unless they understand words, they’re not going to use them. The DVDs Teach Me to Listen and Obey 1 & 2 walk you through teaching children how to follow verbal directions and understand more words.

I hope that gives you enough to go on AND I hope your therapists are outlining your goals in this way.

There are no short cuts to talking – this is how ALL kids learn to communicate: social interest + cognitive skill development measured in play + language comprehension and then the words will come.

I hope it all makes sense to you!! Good luck!! Laura”


You’ll notice I did NOT directly answer her question, “Will she ever talk?” because frankly, I don’t know if she will talk without seeing her in person and working with her week after week after week. No one can tell you definitely if a child who is nonverbal with autism will talk based on a question on the internet…

Research tells us that 33 – 50% of children with autism will not become functional communicators verbally, meaning that they will not learn to use words to express their wants and needs, ask and answer questions, participate in conversations, and use words to accomplish all the things we use words for during our daily lives.

While that number is hard to swallow for lots of parents (and therapists too, by the way!), the good news is…

50 to 66% of children with autism WILL TALK and go on to learn to use language to communicate with others.

While studies vary, most of the time, the biggest predictive factors continue to be how well a child interacts with others, how well he or she plays with toys, and how he or she links meaning with words… so basically…. all the things we talked about helping a child learn to do.

Developing social skills, play skills, and language comprehension are VITAL to helping ALL toddlers, regardless of a diagnosis or WHY they’re not yet talking, learn to communicate.

If our speech therapy treatment plans for young children with autism are based on establishing those foundational skills and if we help parents learn how to target those skills at home, we know we’re doing everything we can to set the stage for a child to become verbal.

And THAT’S what I say we do about words…





Posted in ,



  1. Rebecca on June 15, 2015 at 7:41 am

    WOW! This was great to read…. My son has autism and he is non verbal, my husband and I are thinking about taking him out of his OT and SP. He has gone to 6 Sp and 4 Ot. They don’t know what to do with him anymore. He screams a lot and they can’t handle that with him. He is 5 years old and we started therapy with him at 2 years old and they will not work on his trouble areas. We do not get aba or anything like that thru insurance here in TN, and he only get 52 OT, SP a year very sad!!! Anyways he did not want to go in the his session anymore so I started to seat in with him because they would not tell me anything when I would pick him up. I see why he did not want to go in anymore! OT was only doing sensory and not working on his fine motor skills which he has none of and he was all upset for spinning and he can’t tell then to stop then speech was more disappointing all she was doing with him was a iPad picture thing that he would pick from. She never even made him talk. He is imitating Now and letting us play with him, this is all I hear from SP if he Does imitate he will never talk. So we have been watching your videos and they are a life saver!!! This is what I thought they would be doing with him…. He is very loud but not many words. He can take some direction like throw away stuff and pick up toys and little stuff like that. But I feel like they don’t know what to do with him and the little money we have I don’t what to waste on something that is doing nothing for him. We work at lot at home with him and now he is stuck on M’s sounding like B’s any help for me to get him to say the M sound again? I would love for him to say mom! I’ve been watching your videos and I’m going to order a lot of them and start from the bottom, he needs that a lot! Thank you Becky.

    • Laura on June 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Becky! Thanks for your email. I love that you got involved and attended sessions to figure out what was going on. I recommend that parents do that not only so you know what’s going on, but more importantly, so you can figure out what works so you can do it at home. I love your renewed dedication to work with him yourself, because as you know, consistent focus by parents makes a HUGE difference!! I would never recommend that a parent continue services when they don’t feel it’s working.

      HOWEVER… I would also encourage you to start looking for another SLP who is a better match for what you both need. A go-getter mom plus a skilled therapist working together are the very best combination for any child who needs services!!

      As far as ‘b’ and ‘m’ sounds go, I’d really encourage you not to focus on that right now. He needs reinforcement to TALK and learn to use and understand words all day every day before you get super picky about HOW he talks. Working on sounds with him right now may actually discourage some progress and you’d never want to do that. So keep doing everything you can to encourage him to interact with you, participate in play with you, follow directions, link meaning with words, and finally say anything he can!

      Good luck to you and let me know if you have other questions! Laura

Leave a Comment

Teach Me To Talk Testimonials

Happy Therapists, Teachers, Parents & Children

"Gosh, I love all of your emails/podcast/website, just everything!! I work in early intervention as a behavior analyst and am learning so much from you!"

Thank you!




I love your work! I am a professor of early childhood special education and a speech language pathologist! I have worked to help children learn to communicate and I know how valuable the information you share is for both early interventionists and pediatric speech language pathologists!

Thank you for systematically organizing and explaining essential steps for young children to learn and develop. You are having a great impact on our profession, the ECE profession and families!"



"Thank you.

If this is Laura herself reading this email let me take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have put forth for us professionals. I own every manual (except the autism manual) and have watched every course on DVD. I have listened to countless podcasts. All of what I’ve come to be as an Early Intervention speech therapist was absolutely to your credit. With your resources at my side I have never needed to scramble for answers and strategies and above all the clear language I use when communicating with parents. My fun, animated affect and key phrases I use have been learned through watching your example. So….thank you! May you be blessed."


"I just wanted to thank you so much for your incredible help! You are so kind and lovely and every time I implement something you've taught in your manuals or videos it is always a success, I cannot thank you enough. I really appreciate how specific you are in giving us examples of wording to use and how to use a toy in therapy with your videos, it is exactly what I need to properly help my little students. I also really appreciate your list of books of list of toys. I have seen my little students make significant progress thanks to you. I'm looking forward to watching more of your videos, taking more of your CEU's, and reading more of your materials. From the bottom of my heart: thank you so much again!!"


"Dear Laura,

What an inspiration!

Thank you for helping me be a better Developmental Therapist. I often listen to your podcasts which help me help families.

Your enthusiasm, professionalism and
the sheer volume of information is so great.

You are part of my team.

I just wanted you to know I appreciate you."


"Dear Laura,

Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much knowledge in such a clear and enthusiastic way.

As a retired audiologist with a fabulous and language delayed grandson, I used your podcasts and outstanding publication, The Autism Workbook, to inspire and guide me over the past year.

It works!! He went from barely verbal, no gestures, didn't respond to his name etc etc to a verbal, social, curious, ready to imitate anything, fill in the blanks on familiar "set" speech, generate his own totally appropriate and mostly understandable sentences...not just short phrases anymore... full little paragraphs...about imaginary things, what he did during the day, what he wants. True communication!

You make a powerful difference in this world! ❤"

With gratitude,

"Laura Mize, you are a Godsend. I don’t know how one human can have so many helpful things to say in a beautifully organized way, so often. Always amazes me when another super helpful email comes from you, and for free. With free YouTube videos and cheap CEUs. THANK YOU!!!"

Sheila, Canada

"I purchased the book on autism and have watched the #400s series podcasts. Laura Mize has been more effective in teaching autistic tendencies, than many professors, shadowing professions, and the 100s of books, articles and classes or videos, or live workshop speakers, have been at teaching effective practices for a child with ASD. Some of the many lessons she has taught, which I will now use, to be a more effective Interventionist, include but are not limited to: red flags, typical behaviors, self-stimulating behaviors, not taking away toys, rather showing child to play with toy appropriately. She gives examples of child's actions, "inappropriate," explains the reason for: why the child is engaging in these behaviors and how they can be replaced with more appropriate, effective fuctional and age-appropriate skills."

"I’m sure Laura gets these messages all the time, but I thought I’d share. I stumbled across Laura‘s "Autism or Speech Delay?" YouTube video when I really needed it. This video finally listed and explained some of the red flags my son was showing for autism. I share the link anytime a parent is questioning in my FB autism group. This mother I don’t even know said Laura's video changed her life. I know exactly how she feels because It changed families too. Thank you to everyone at Teach Me To Talk."


"Good Morning Laura,
I received your book (The Autism Workbook) yesterday and it is absolutely amazing! As I evaluate young children (0-3) for developmental delays and write plans for them with their parents, there are a ton of ideas that are ready to use. Others that reinforce what I have been doing, and saying, all along. Thank you so, so much for writing this incredible book and pulling everything together in one place!"


"Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, experience, and guidance.
I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."

"Laura Mize, all I have to say is that ALL YOUR STRATEGIES WORK."

ANNE, YouTube viewer

"We have 7 SLPs in our preschool (public) program for special needs children (ages 3-5) and we use your courses, books, and techniques every day! :-) We have seen our preschoolers make such great gains!"


"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"


"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."


"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."


"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."


"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"


"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"


"I just really appreciate your courses! I have two new clinicians that I’m working with and have recommended these courses to both of them. I’ve watched quite a few and have learned so much about serving this population. To be honest, before I started implementing your strategies I was a little frustrated with the lack of progress. My skills with engaging these little ones have improved so much! Thank you so much for making these CEUs so valuable!" C, SLP