‘Did you say ‘mama’?’: Girl, 5, with nonverbal autism says first word, surprising parents

ATHENS, Ala. — A child's first word is a major milestone, but for families with nonverbal children, it's one that can seem out of reach.

Taylor Blankenship is 5 years old and has nonverbal autism.

"So many people take for granted that their kids talk to them, or they talk them to death," Taylor's mom Briana Blankenship said.

"They're tired of hearing 'Mama' 30 times a day. They don't realize that there are parents like us that literally dream that their kids are going to do that. That they're going to wake up and their kid is going to be asking them like for juice, or anything."

Taylor's brain processes information differently than most. She has been in speech therapy since she was 3.

Much to Blankenship's surprise, Taylor said her first word last month. It was "mama" and she said it while they were waiting in a drive-thru.

"I heard her say it, and I whipped around, and I'm just like, 'Did you just say 'mama'?' And she said it again. And I was like, 'Oh my God!'" Blankenship said.

Blankenship posted a video of her daughter saying her first word on her Facebook. She said she hopes the video inspires other families with nonverbal children.

The next word on the list for Taylor to learn is "dada."