What is echolalia?
A dictionary states: “meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder.” As a parent of a child with autism and as an SLP, I don’t find this definition particularly helpful or accurate.
Immediate or Delayed Echolalia can be an indication that a child is a Gestalt Language Processor. You can read information from ASHA here. A Gestalt Language Processor may learn language in large “chunks” and work their way down to single words.
- “Lucas, would you like some crackers?” Mom “Like some crackers” Lucas
- “Do you want Goldfish or Cheezits?” Mom “Goldfish or Cheezits.” Lucas
- “For the first time in forever…”
- “I’m on the case!”
- For a Gestalt Language Processor, there is a known sequence of development that includes stages of development. Meaningful Speech has done a great job of presenting this information through coursework.
- Join them. Show them that you’re interested in what they’re interested in. If you aren’t sure what the script or Echolalia means, become a detective and try to figure it out. (Sometimes this takes me weeks…my son is so patient with me!)
- Don’t ignore. These are most likely not nonsense words or meaningless speech; this is communication!
- Don’t forget: us not “getting it” doesn’t equal the child not having meaning or purpose in what they are saying.