I Heart Echolalia


I’ve seen some great posts on echolalia around the blogosphere lately. One point in particular that I keep thinking about was from Maddy’s post, in which she mentioned that someone had found her blog by searching “methods to stop echolalia.” Yes, it can be annoying sometimes, and maybe completely random, but hey! Your child is talking. Do you get it? Why would you want to stop that?

I have written about Nigel’s language development through various stages of echolalia. Yes, there have been times in recent years when I have prompted him to use his own words instead of a memorized phrase to communicate, but that’s because I know that he now has the ability to do that, to use his own words. Echolalia is comforting to him, however, and he reverts to that in high-stress situations. And in those situations, it’s more important to help him to calm down than to stop the echolalia. I don’t tell him “You can use your own words” when he’s on the verge of a meltdown. But sometimes, when he’s calm and comfortable, I encourage him to rephrase whatever he’s saying. I’ll gently suggest, “You don’t need to say things from videos right now. Try to tell me in your own words.” And he does now, because he’s able to. But I would never want to take that part of him away completely. He’s said some really funny things because of his delayed echolalia (scripting)! It’s how he learned to talk, and for that reason, I’m sentimental about it.

Why on earth, when a brave child is venturing into the speaking realm, would someone want to stop echolalia? Let them do it! Let them practice! When someone is learning to play the piano, there is a lot of bothersome plinking and plunking going on, usually on a daily basis. But after a long time of that, a song emerges, sometimes one that they have composed themselves. And there will still be plenty more plunking and plinking as the years go by. But also – we hope – more songs.

6 thoughts on “I Heart Echolalia

  1. Casdok

    As you know C dosnt speak at all, which i have totaly accepted.

    But i would heart echolalia too if he one day decided to use his voice. So i cannot understand anyone wanting to stop it. Even his ear piercing shrieks are music to my ears!

  2. Fearless Females

    I agree! Nick used to quote from movies or shows that he likes more than he does now–his communication at 14 is so much better because he explored words and expressions, etc. My daughter, Meghan, doesn’t speak but has been practicing repeating words from me. So yeah! And it’s never too late to work on and perfect communication, just one step at a time is what I’ve learned!

  3. jess

    you know, the guys i work with (all typical as the day is long) recite movie scripts day in and day out . they amuse each other with the perfect line from caddyshack or try to stump one another with a more obscure reference.

    who knows? it might serve our kids well one day.

    in the meantime, the comfort of it – YES.

    we try so hard to walk this fine line between ‘normalizing’ our kids’ behavior to allow them some peace from juddgement and allowing them to revel in the comfort and security that they find in it.

    it’s so, so important to realize that there is a benefit for our kids in what they do. they find what they need. i’d hate to strip my little one of the things that can help her calm .herself.

  4. M

    and the phrases are windows into his personality. something about those particular words stuck with him. So…even if it’s not clear why he’s choosing one phrase over another…it’s him doing the choosing, the expressing. Like you’re saying, notes that indicate a larger song (i do love your descriptions. The way you can take something that, as you indicate, some parents dislike, and find a certain poetry in it…that’s a beautiful thing to do).

    Hope you guys are well…recovered from the recent ailments.

  5. bluevwlady

    My son , age 19, is hard of hearing, so would probably have a deaf drawl if he spoke, but he is very quiet and has echolalia. He does walk in and act out something he saw and heard of Toy Story , a brief three word spot. The only time his face shows expression.He is autisic, mild now. He still doesn’t like to wear clothes, so on his highschool graduation day at a party in our home, he wore his boxers!! Everyone said it was HIS day and they didn’t mind. I think any words are awesome! He learned a saying” can I have a drink please?” when he was 5 and still uses it.
    The only full sentence he speaks.
    He can’t even sign full sentences, but does get his message across. We are looking into a IPOD touch program that will speak for him so he can try to get out into the world someday….I don’t know if that will be possible without an aid, but I have faith.If anyone wants to ask me questions I would love to hear from you. bluevwlady@yahoo.com

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