But What Does it *Feel* Like - Going Non Verbal

Hello againnnn
Here’s another one - Going non verbal. Usually associated with ASD, going non verbal can be something that happens long term, short term, or over short periods. It’s described as being unable or unwilling to talk, but what does it actually feel like?
Here is my personal experience with going non verbal - this is a very diverse thing, and honestly it depends on the individual, as well as the circumstances also.

It sometimes comes as a surprise

When I go non verbal, it’s usually because I am overstimulated, or I am dissociating. In both cases, sometimes I expect that it’ll happen, but there have been many times in my life where I think I’ll be fine verbally, then I open my mouth and nothing comes out.

For me, it’s like if I even move my tongue or any muscles in my mouth, I’ll have a sensory overload.

It’s a bit like choking, honestly. My mouth refuses to respond, and if I try to force it, I get extremely stressed and anxious as a result. That doesn’t stop me - as a result of constantly masking, I sometimes have to force myself to talk even through being non verbal, and usually have a meltdown/shutdown later on because of it.
You think you know what you’re going to say, but when it comes to voicing it - you can’t. You physically cannot speak without a huge and I mean huge amount of effort.

Personally, going non verbal also means I can’t eat or drink

Like I mentioned before, usually for me it’s entirely a sensory issue. That means any stimulation in my mouth will overwhelm me during a non verbal episode. Sometimes as a defense mechanism, my lips will refuse to move if I try and drink something, and even if I am really hungry, I will be unable to eat anything either.

It’s not something Neurotypicals usually think about, but people like me are conscious of every. single. sensation in our mouths.

The way your tongue hits the roof of your mouth, or brushes your teeth while you talk? You probably don’t notice it, but I do. I am aware of the air tickling my throat with every breath, and the vibrations my vocal cords make as I speak. As a result - irl, I barely ever talk. If I do, I usually try to say everything in one go so I don;t have to experience the whole, stopping and starting thing that comes with any conversation. I am a listener, not a talker.

It can be quite embarrassing

No one wants to go non verbal during a presentation, or while trying to explain something lengthily. I get quite self conscious, honestly. Very few people in my life actually know that I am autistic, nevermind that I go non verbal from time to time, so I’m rarely able to communicate in other ways (writing usually) because then I would be given weird looks and awkward questions. It causes quite a bit of embarrassment in the end.

That’s all for now, as there’s not much to say about going non verbal, at least not that I’ve experienced. If you have your own experience, feel free to discuss it below! Everyone is different, and my experience is far from universal.

Links to other "But what does it *feel* like" posts

Panic Attacks


For me, I just can’t make the words come out. It’s great. /s


Again, thanks for this valuable information from your experiences.

Added tags here too

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thank uuu

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For me, it always happens when I have to be talking :disappointed:


Exactly. I swear, it knows…


it’s like a printer - it senses your fear and malfunctions just when you need it


Huge mood. Oh my god.

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