My son just turned 3 on Saturday. He has delayed speech mainly due to chronic ear infections from age 1 to 2. He didn't say his first word until he was 20 months. He says quite a bit now but I had him see a speech therapist and he is only at the 2 year, 3 month level speech wise. She also noticed the echolalia which is the main reason I had brought him in to begin with. I didn't know if it was a normal 2 year old trait or something else. Anyway, the repeating is a red flag so I was wondering if a child does display echolalia, is this always a sign of autism or could it just be a behavorial thing he'll outgrow?
Hi, TXChica. I'm a speech therapist who works with little ones. It's hard to know because I haven't met your child. Sometimes kids use echolalia because they know they're supposed to say *something* back to you, but they can't prepare a response nearly fast enough. So they just say what you just said. It's a whole lot easier and faster. Sometimes echolalia is symptomatic of a more complex issue like autism spectrum disorders. Take it step by step. Maybe try giving him some choices rather than open-ended questions and see if he still repeats you. This would indicate that he does comprehend and it's just difficult for him to generate and formulate verbal responses still. So, for example, "Bobby, do you want Cheerios or Corn Flakes? - only that, see how simple? - vs. "What cereal do you want today?" That makes him have to remember the names and form a sentence to tell you in a speedy fashion. You can do this with clothing choices, foods, anything around the house or your daily life. This can help his vocabulary and grammar gradually grow in a supportive way. OK, enough chatter from me!
Good question. Please follow up and let me know how you and he are doing!
Thank you chatterboxsd - I do have him seeing a speech therapist regularly now and both she and the doctor told me what you said to give him a choice. I tried that with something simple like a yes or no and he repeated, yes or no. I've also tried to give him a choice a lunchtime say bologna or hotdog. He just simply repeats whatever I said last, which was hotdog. I know he comprehends because if I do start to give him what he said he wanted and it's not really what he wanted, he'll let me know like If he really wanted the bologna. I've switched to asking him an open yes or no question and he at first just repeats the question IF the answer is yes. I wait and he'll eventually after a few seconds say yes. If the answer is no, he doesn't repeat, he quickly says no without hesitation. I don't know much about echolalia and less about autism but I would think that if he truly was displaying echolalia he would repeat even if the answer were no, right? I also realized this last week that my husband and I have a tendency to repeat since we're trying to reassure him he's saying it correctly. Maybe he thinks now that's how you speak. I don't know. Probably grasping at straws.
I appreciate the response though and I think being at preschool and this weekly session with the therapist is going to work wonders.
it all depends on what the context of the repeating is. For instance, is that the only communicating he is doing, ---just repeating back to you what you have said or asked? Or does he speak normally to you and ask normal questions and repeats only occasionally. Like in a game?
If that is your only symptom or sign, then look again. YOu cannot base a diagnosis on THAT. Or on hand flapping. My grandson copied us for over a year and suddenly stopped. he also has stopped flapping his hands very abruptly. His OT said the older he gets and matures he will understand not to do certain quirky things. She was right.
My grandson is NOT on the spectrum & started copy catting us around age 3.5 to 4. He would do it and look at us like it was a joke -- Pretty soon it wasn't so funny anymore. and we called him on it and he said he would stop. But he seemed compelled to repeat odd or unusual things he heard, not only everyday language. he knew we didn't like it and he said OK he wouldn't do it anymore.
But for about a year, he kept doing it. For instance when his mother and I were on the phone sometimes and she would say something like " OH my goodness your'e kidding!" I would hear him repeat it the same way in a high voice, And it worried me, but it was also funny because he sounded like a parrot.
His OT said her daughter did the same thing and it was no big deal. her daughter has something similar to CP.
Pretty soon you will notice they don't do it so much, because they are more confident in their own communicating. My grandson is 5 now & rarely does it anymore and it is usually if someone has said something out of the ordinary and in an unusual way. We are no longer worried about it.
It seems it was an attention getter for him until he found out that NO ONE appreciated it and he pretty much stopped. So the OT was right.
I usually said in no uncertain terms DO NOT COPY ME. I would not have been so adamant if I thought he was autistic and could not help himself.