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Thursday, 25 April 2013

An Update on Josie's Speech - Echolalia

Josie's speech has improved dramatically!  Her speech has improved more than her communication, but that has come a long way as well.  Her vocabulary is the same or maybe even better than your average 2.5 year old.  However, she doesn't use that vocabulary to make meaningful phrases, or communicating sentences.  Her sentences and phrases come from TV or the tablet and are just repetition, not communicating anything expressive.  We have entered the phase of echolalia.  

Echolalia - What is it?

Merriam-Webster describes echolalia as this:
": the often pathological repetition of what is said by other people as if echoing them"

 Autism Speaks goes into more detail with this definition:
"Echolalia is the repetition of words, phrases, intonation, or sounds of the speech of others. Children with ASD often display echolalia in the process of learning to talk. Immediate echolalia is the exact repetition of someone else's speech, immediately or soon after the child hears it. Delayed echolalia may occur several minutes, hours, days, or even weeks or years after the original speech was heard. Echolalia is sometimes referred to as "movie talk" because the child can remember and repeat chunks of speech like repeating a movie script. Echolalia was once thought to be non-functional, but is now understood to often serve a communicative or regulatory purpose for the child.  Also known as: "Movie talk", Scripting  Related term: Repetitive use of language"

 I define echolalia as:
"Music to a mother's ears!"
Echolalia - Why I'm Excited About It

As Josie repeats things she's heard, I find her vocabulary expands.  She doesn't just repeat and forget, nor does she repeat without understanding.  She will take words from those phrases and sentences and whip them out later as labels.  This is really good!  Some children with autism remain non-verbal, but Josie is not one of them.  

Hearing her use echolalia also affirms in my mind that she will learn to communicate.  If she is able to repeat like that, she will be able to learn "scripts" of what to say to other people.  For example, she learned (without prompting from me?) to say thank you after somebody gives her something.  However, she takes it very literally, and says thank you after you give her ANYTHING!  Does she know what thank you means?  I'm guessing not, to her it is just a "script" of what you say after somebody gives you something.  But hey, it works!

What Next?

I try my hardest not to get annoyed by echolalia, but sometimes it is just impossible.  After your child has been running all over the house repeating "toothbrush and toothpaste" (thanks Bubble Guppies) for hours you just get a little bit irritated.  I internalize that annoyance and irritation though, I never tell her to be quiet, never tell her to shut up, never do anything that might make her stop.  I would be more upset if she were to stop talking again.  So, I deal.

I'm planning to use this echolalia as a chance to introduce some scripts to hopefully help her communicate meaningfully in a way other than labelling.

Have you ever heard of echolalia?  Most children go through a phase of it, even neurotypical kids!  Did it annoy you?  

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog and your daughter sounds just like mine! My DD had no words at 21 months but now at almost 3 she has hundreds of words and phrases, but ALL are scripts. She uses them functionally, but they r memorized. My dd starts preschool next week after her third birthday and will continue with 15 hrs of ABA after school. Is your little one in school yet?


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