Dr. Lisa Marnell, OTD, MBA
Encourage Echolalia in Autism
Updated: Jul 4, 2021
First, what is echolalia?
Echolalia is the repetition of words and phrases that SEEM irrelevant but may be meaningful to children. When children are happy or stressed they may be echolalic. Often, their phrases come from a favorite movie or TV show.
Second, is it good, bad . . . how should we react to it?
Take a look at these 7 reasons to encourage echolalia in autistic children and teens . . .
1- Echolalia has Meaning!
•Although not always apparent to adults, echolalia often has meaning.
•If a movie character is frightened and shouts, “The monster is coming!”, a child may repeat this line when scared.
2- Echolalia is Communication!
•To develop kids’ agency, one of our #1 priorities is to encourage any and all attempts at communication.
3- Echolalia is a Step toward Purposeful Speech!
•Echolalia today can transition into more meaningful speech tomorrow.
4- Echolalia is Comforting!
•Scripts and lines from a favorite movie or show may offer comfort to a child.
•Familiar lines are predictable and can be soothing in times of stress.
•Familiar lines may offer escape.
5- Echolalia is Speech!
•One theory about speech in autism is that children have poor oral praxis (this means they struggle to know how to move their mouths to make sound).
•Echolalia provides speaking practice.
6- Echolalia Builds Relationships!
•Echolalia may be intentionally funny or be used to initiate an interaction.
7- Children Learn Language Differently!
•Children may speak in longer phrases initially rather than word by word.
Download this visual at the link below and feel welcome to share this with fellow parents, therapists, and school professionals.
As always, feel welcome to touch base with me, Dr. Lisa Marnell, OT, by e-mail at KidsMasterSkills@gmail.com I would love to hear about your successes, your struggles, and any questions or comments you have!
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