I hear people praying in the night. I hear them praying together in church. I want to pray with them, but I have a problem: I cannot talk! I communicate by typing or pointing to a letter board and spelling words out. I once tried to spell while they talked but got way behind! They were saying “Amen” when I was at “Dear Heavenly Father.”
I am often asked by my parents and others if I pray. I tell them, “definitely, yes!” I did not learn how to communicate by spelling until I was 18, so God was the only one I could talk to! People thought I was in my own world, but I was only praying that I could talk. Passing the time would often be boring because I needed help with most things. I was so dependent on others that I talked to God while waiting for their assistance. I talked to God many times during the day. It is easy to talk to God.
I would often complain to God, but I know He heard my thoughts! It was not that I didn't have a lot to be thankful for—I did! Despite having autism, being unable to communicate (verbally) and people thinking I was not smart, I still had many blessings. I had parents and family that loved me, and a school of nice people.
I would ask God questions that were of concern to me. Some of the questions were about autism. Others were about world events, and some were about my family. God knows my thoughts and listens to me. I once asked my dad’s minister a tough question. The minister was a very nice man who liked listening to me and even made a sermon about a poem I wrote! I asked him if God loved those of us with autism. He said “yes,” and gave me a nice explanation. I do believe God loves us with autism. He loves us by listening to us! He also loves us through the kindness of His people in the church. God can talk to us through the church. The Church of the Brethren in Boulder Hill once played a speech I wrote and gave me a standing ovation! I felt God's love and His voice that day! I think it is important for nonverbal individuals to also speak God's love to other people.
The love from God is a lot like the love from your parents. Both parents and God love you no matter what happens. They are always there for you! They love you even when you get in trouble or make bad decisions. They love you even when you are not really listening to them. Way too often, we are not listening to them, and we expect to ask for help when we need it.
God listens to you and knows you. Hope for the future is one of God’s gifts. He talks past both disability and silent words. Yes, you can talk and be heard by God when you are nonverbal. He will listen and give you hope.
Ann Hamlin is autistic and non-verbal. She uses an iPad and talking board to communicate. Ann’s dad, Bob Hamlin, attends the Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Illinois, where she feels warmly welcomed.
We encourage you to listen to Ann’s original song with the message that even when people can’t talk, they are intelligent and they have gifts to share. You can also read from Ann’s blog here.