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Please help! Is repeating "normal" speech? Going crazy

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hi, I'm still new to Mothering.com and hoping you ladies can give me a dose of sanity (or a reality check, whatever you prefer) :)  My daughter is 22 months and extremely bright. There is something going on with regard to her language though, that I have been wondering if it's normal. I should start by saying I am not concerned about her *lack* of speaking. She has hundreds of words and is speaking in short sentences, although longer ones have emerged over the past few weeks that are far more complex. A few weeks before the longer sentences started, I did notice that she was developing some echolalia in her speech sometimes. It seemed to get pretty intense a couple weeks ago and has been ebbing since then, and I did notice her novel sentences are so much more complex all the sudden, so I wonder if that has something to do with it. I'm not super concerned with the immediate echolalia-- because she answers questions all the time, shows ability to process language and initiate novel speech to ask for things, engage, etc.-- but something happened around the same time that has me more worried. Basically, she has started repeating a couple lines from songs and books, over and over again, throughout the day... even if we haven't read the book in a couple days or heard the song in a while. She seems to do it when she's talking to herself (she plays with her dolls and sings, talks, etc to them, makes them talk, etc). and she does it in the car seat too.

 

To give a couple examples, there's a book she loves where the character keeps saying "I'm not sleepy" even though he is (the author and creator of the Spot series should be a celebrity in our home, I swear.) I heard her saying that to her dolls just yesterday afternoon, even though we haven't read the book in a few days. She said it a few times, and again this morning. I can't tell if she's "acting out a scene" with them or what (she does have quite an imagination!) but I thought it was strange. She was making them lay down, and this morning, she was laying on the floor when she said it, so maybe this is just her way of making an association? Another example: yesterday and this morning, we came home in the car and she loudly said, "Daddy mowing! He DID mow."... which is what had happened the day before when we'd come home (the day before, she'd said that and I'd told her he did mow and was finished.) Daddy was NOT mowing when she said this, in fact daddy wasn’t even home either time. Or, she will sing this one song she loves, at least a few times a day, even if we haven't heard it in a while, and she'll do it throughout the day. Yo Gabba Gabba’s theme song is a personal favorite, although we don’t watch TV that often at all.

 

I am wondering if this can be considered delayed echolalia? From everything I’ve read and heard, that’s not considered a “normal” part of language development and could be considered an autism flag. I am hypervigilant, even neurotic, about this type of thing sometimes, so I am trying not to get too spun up, but I am definitely concerned. On the other hand, I am somewhat hard pressed to believe that some kids don’t just do this. I mean, don’t we as adults get songs in our heads, or little jingles, or whatever? On the other, I don’t want to dismiss behaviors either. Very torn.

 

As for the rest of her behavior, she is super engaged with me, her dad and her caregiver, great eye contact, good pretend play, plays appropriately with toys, no tantrums, etc. She is pretty reserved around other kids her age though although she has a close friend she plays with every day who is 2 months older, and they get on great. I’ve seen her ignore certain kids completely (very grabby or bossy kids, or physically aggressive ones, she wants nothing to do with) but she will observe other kids she doesn’t know well rather than get in the action and play with them.

 

What do you guys think? Am I going nuts over nothing? I’m particularly curious if any of you had your kids do this and it was just a normal phase. I really have no idea what’s “normal” these days… seems like everything is a flag for something L

post #2 of 29

Hm, I have a 27-month old son and he does something similar, I think.  I'm not familiar with echolalia, but my son repeats lines from his favorite books, movies, songs, or recent conversations all time.  Sometimes he wants me to confirm I know what he's talking about (and remember a moment with him), other times he's having his toys act things out, and sometimes it's just talking to talk.  Not sure if this is what your DD is doing exactly but I've never been concerned about it with my son.  Don't know if that's any help to you at all, but it's my perspective.  

post #3 of 29

Sounds totally normal to me. I've been down that road with my DS -  his language development was very clunky and involved a lot of delayed echolalia. He had a very difficult time with spontaneous language. He is 5 now and speaks fine although still has some social delays. My youngest, DD is almost 26 months and now I've had the pleasure of witnessing 'normal' language development and yes it does include some repeating of story lines she likes, songs, TV lines and even things that me, DH or DS has said in the past. From what you have wrote your DD does not have any red flags. Enjoy!
 

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you both! Yes, what your kids are doing sounds exactly like what my daughter is doing. Yesterday I felt like I was going crazy because someone (a very well-meaning acquaintance with some SLP background) told me that no child should do this ever, but that seems really odd to me. I mean, adults do this all the time too. To me, it should be a question of how pervasive it is. If more than 95% of my daughter's speech is novel and non-scripted, does this small percentage really matter? Your responses have helped put me at ease a bit but I do wonder, do other kids just not do this?

post #5 of 29

My dd does. She's 2.75 now and very verbal, and she definitely repeats sounds, lines from songs and videos she's watched, etc. It seems extremely normal to me -- because you're right, not only do adults also do this (how often do you get a song or a weird word stuck in your head on repeat? You just don't say it out loud because you have developed a filter) but also because the language part of the toddler brain seems to always be working, turning things over, practicing, slotting words into place, seeking pattern and construct.

 

My dd especially does the repeating when she's playing alone. Recent favorites include "Holy guacamole!" from Skippyjon Jones (she pronounces it Holy Gocksamoley!) and several lines and phrases from the tv show Kipper. In fact, she also changes her speech patterns to reflect a British accent sometimes after watching Kipper. They're just little sponges. It doesn't seem strange to me at all and of the many children I've taught ages 2 to 5, a great majority did it.

 

Seems to me the only red flag would be if she did it *instead* of instigating or responding to conversations with people, but that doesn't seem to be the case with your dd. The things she's saying seem totally normal to me. Oh, the thing about "Daddy mowing" -- sounds like she had a memory triggered of when he mowed, and vocalized it. That's very common for my dd to do too, especially if the memory is strong or particularly interesting to her. For an example -- a few weeks ago, I mentioned to my dd that soon, we were going to go visit Grandma and go to the zoo. When I said this to her, we happened to be getting on the freeway at our usual onramp. Well, *every single time* we have gotten on that onramp in the weeks since, at the very same moment as we enter the freeway, dd will say to me "Mama, remember? We're going to Grandma's and to the zoo! Remember?" It's so crazy -- it's like her brain took a snapshot of that moment and what we were doing when I originally told her, and every single time we get on the onramp the memory is triggered and it pops into her head. (We are actually going this weekend, so maybe after it happens she'll stop mentioning it, but who knows? Toddlers are weird.)

post #6 of 29

I think it is hard to tell.  The fact that she's doing it enough to worry you means it may be beyond normal--or not...  You are right to look at other things as well because it would mainly be considered a problem in combination with other symptoms and by itself doesn't mean much.  By itself I think this does not sound like a red flag. 

 

It could be a first sign of problems, though, especially if there have been other little things.  Our autistic child did this extensively.  He repeated pieces of movies and songs and even memorized books and recited them.  Same ones again and again and again.  At 12yo he does it still in slightly different ways like repeating the same scripted set of trivia facts to people over and over, humming songs, etc.  We didn't see his problems as a serious set of symptoms until he was near five years old.  At two, he was the precocious quirky kid who already had memorized the alphabet and didn't listen well.  It was all still mostly cute.

 

While it could be signs of problems, your description really does not sound beyond normal to me.  Repeating something you talked about the day before doesn't seem like a problem at all.  Right now, I would assume she is just connecting with language by saying a few things that she found striking, practicing sentences, and just generally enjoying the sound of words.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grethel View Post

 (We are actually going this weekend, so maybe after it happens she'll stop mentioning it, but who knows? Toddlers are weird.)

 

Ha! Aren't they though? :)

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlest birds View Post

I think it is hard to tell.  The fact that she's doing it enough to worry you means it may be beyond normal--or not...  You are right to look at other things as well because it would mainly be considered a problem in combination with other symptoms and by itself doesn't mean much.  By itself I think this does not sound like a red flag. 

 

It could be a first sign of problems, though, especially if there have been other little things.  Our autistic child did this extensively.  He repeated pieces of movies and songs and even memorized books and recited them.  Same ones again and again and again.  At 12yo he does it still in slightly different ways like repeating the same scripted set of trivia facts to people over and over, humming songs, etc.  We didn't see his problems as a serious set of symptoms until he was near five years old.  At two, he was the precocious quirky kid who already had memorized the alphabet and didn't listen well.  It was all still mostly cute.

 

While it could be signs of problems, your description really does not sound beyond normal to me.  Repeating something you talked about the day before doesn't seem like a problem at all.  Right now, I would assume she is just connecting with language by saying a few things that she found striking, practicing sentences, and just generally enjoying the sound of words.

 

Interesting, littlest birds... thanks for your perspective. I don't think it's the frequency of her doing it that worried me -- it was more that I worry about EVERYTHING and because someone told me this is delayed echolalia and was considered a flag, I began to observe it like a hawk. That being said, I've worried about ASD with my daughter (because like I said, I do worry about everything, and it can be exhausting!) but mostly because she is pretty shy, and also because she can play independently and doesn't require constant attention all the time (although that too, goes in spurts... like for example, she would not leave me alone for a second last night!) I do agree it can be hard to tell. Out of curiosity, were there other things about your son you noticed in retrospect around this age? And how is he doing now, if you don't mind me asking?

post #9 of 29

Just to chime in--my son is *exactly* that age and does very much the same thing. He just gets super into a phrase or idea and returns to it OVER AND OVER. Lately, it's been "water spout!' as in, what the itsy bitsy spider climbed. 

 

The thing that makes me not concerned about it is that he does this kind of thing when he's kind of bored or on his own, not in response to interaction. If I said, "Hey, can you get the green block," and he frequently responded with "Water spout!" I think I'd be more concerned. Mostly, I think he's just entertaining himself by singing the piece of that song that he can remember.

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 

Great point nilatti, my daughter does this in the exact same context. If you ask her a question or redirect her, she answers the question and redirects. If you tell her to "stopitbecauseyou'redrivingmecrazy" (LOL ok maybe I've done that once or twice Sheepish.gif) then she stops. Thanks for sharing your experience, it helps a lot!

post #11 of 29

Your friend was absolutely wrong!! I am an SLP and my son is 27 months and he does this constantly! I work almost exclusively with children on the spectrum. Echolalia peaks at around 30 months and then decreases in NORMAL children, and if that was the ONLY language she had I would be concerned, but this is not what you are describing at all. Echolalia is actually very functional in terms of language learning, and children with autism will often do it to attempt to understand what is being said to them. My son also does the whole repeating lines from television and books, like we are working on potty training, and he keeps repeating this line from a potty video we have. Every time he sits on his potty he'll say "And nothing came out". It's annoying when they keep repeating themselves, but it sounds like your DD is using the language appropriately (talking about sleep when lying down). Delayed echolalia is not usually appropriate, and will be extremely lengthy in some cases, where the child repeats whole television shows or commercials that have nothing to do with what is going on at the moment. I actually had a student that would come to school and repeat entire episodes of wheel of fortune. Also, it seems to be more common in abnormal echolalia that the child would repeat entire conversations that she has heard, as opposed to single lines from a show or songs. Remember that she is also realizing that she has the language to describe events that have happened in the past, so she can talk about daddy mowing yesterday because she has the memory to recall it and the language to talk about it.

 

As long as she is creating novel utterances and is able to answer questions (Which toy do you want to bring to the park? My teddy bear) rather than repeating them back to you (Which toy do you want? Which toy do you want?) and she is progressing normally in other areas, I would say you can stop worrying.
 

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks Mrs. T, that is so helpful!! I thought what my friend was saying didn't make a ton of sense... it seemed too "black or white". You make a great point about memory too-- my daughter seems to have experienced a surge here and I think it tickles her to remember. That being said, her repeating of songs, book lines, etc is MOSTLY in context but once or twice she has randomly rattled off a few lines from her favorite rhymes ("Brown Bear, Brown Bear" as an example) for seemingly no reason... just playing with her toy kitchen and her dolls and talking to herself. I *think* that still is pretty normal based on what you guys are describing though?

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

PS- have I mentioned how much this forum and this thread have helped me to feel a little more sane? THANK YOU ladies, sincerely.

post #14 of 29

Totally normal. It might just be something she likes to hear herself saying. Also, this is a time where children have to practice language a lot...speech skills are developing as well. My son does the same. He repeats this line that he thinks is funny from Caillou, even when it has nothing to do with what is going on. It just makes him happy to say it. I would only be concerned if she did not seem to be developing normally in other areas of language, like if she couldn't ask for things to meet her wants and needs, or if she never initiated a conversation with you. Also, play skills are a very good sign, if she is playing with her toys and talking to them she sounds like she is right on target. Also, my son is an only child...is your DD? He does the same thing around other kids...he definitely seems interested in playing with some kids but not others, and he is a little cautious around kids he doesn't know, but he is really only exposed to kids his age at the playground. The most important part of play skills is that your DD is playing like other children, not necessarily with them at this age. It's more parallel play, where children play alongside one another with the same toys, but not really with each other. If she was isolating herself from other children and not using toys appropriately, then it would be a concern.

post #15 of 29

My DD is 23 months old and she is good with 2-3 word phrases. She repeats phrases all the time - for whatever reason (Im a first time parent) I'm not worried about it because it feels perfectly normal. She'll just randomly say certain phrases she happens to be into at the time (Daddy Mower, Bebop's Chair,  Evie's Computer)  and it seems totally fine to me. Repeating what one hears is (at least it seems to me) basically the only way someone can learn a language! Think about it - you are learning spanish. What do you do over and over? Repeat the phrases!!! And they pop into your mind randomly - now, as an adult you dont say them, but talky toddlers do.
 

post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 

mrs. t... Her conversational and functional language are good, and play skills are definitely strong-- she has a vivid imagination from what I can tell and has been "role playing" since about 14 months old... so we love that and encourage it! She uses toys appropriately too-- well ok except for making her dolls take naps in her toy microwave, but that is a different issue! ;) (The narration is the best part: "Tasha's turn in microwave! Night night!" Huh? LOL). She also parallel plays *most* of the time. There have been two situations in recent memory where she didn't parallel play or want to play at all actually, and both times were more aggressive toddlers she didn't know well who came over to our house for a play date and just started taking her toys-- normal toddler behavior but she didn't deal with it well on her home turf. Instead of playing, she was upset her toys were being taken from her and used by seemingly strange kids, and then completely disengaged from those kids and wanted to sit with the adults and snack instead.

 

Also to answer your question, she is in fact an only child (although not for long, as I am due in October with another girl!) I do wonder if we haven't exposed her to enough kids. We've been pretty bad about organized play dates due to some whooping cough outbreaks in our state and we hardly ever went to the playground although we're trying to change that now. She has one friend she sees a lot, and they do well (although she is still a much more 'passive' kid than her friend-- just sort of gives up her toys when her friend takes them-- but they have fun running, chasing, jumping together, reading books together and imitating each other. It's pretty cute. 

 

graciegal, that's a great point about how we learn language!

post #17 of 29

Wow. My son is the same age, and you could have just been talking about him, though I think your daughters speech is a little more advanced. He repeats favorite lines from songs and books seemingly randomly ALL THE TIME, even Yo Gabba Gabba (he's obsessed with Brobee). He will repeat "E I E I O" from old mcdonald (even if we don't sing it for days) over and over and over. He also does this with books, he has an oppisate book and will recite it randomly, "Clean, dirty, up, down, loud, quiet". 

 

I'm pretty sure this is all normal! I find it adorable. He obviously has preferances and will later ask for those things he was repeating earlier. 

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Sk8boarder15, I think these kids would get along smashingly smile.gif In our house, the Gabba character of choice is Foofa. Although tonight Muno got a turn in the spotlight. My daughter decided to color her stuffed Muno doll's teeth with blue crayon and then attempt to brush his teeth. LOL she is a funny child.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by micromama View Post

Thank you both! Yes, what your kids are doing sounds exactly like what my daughter is doing. Yesterday I felt like I was going crazy because someone (a very well-meaning acquaintance with some SLP background) told me that no child should do this ever, but that seems really odd to me. I mean, adults do this all the time too. To me, it should be a question of how pervasive it is. If more than 95% of my daughter's speech is novel and non-scripted, does this small percentage really matter? Your responses have helped put me at ease a bit but I do wonder, do other kids just not do this?

 

She's just plain wrong. It's one of the ways children learn. Some children use more because it's their personalities/learning style. This is where a little bit of knowledge can indeed be dangerous. Tell her she needs to read Shirly Brice Heath's book "Ways with Words". It's full of examples of perfectly typical kids using echolalia. Echolalia is only a problem if it's persistent and it occurs with very little spontaneous speech.

 

As for not exposing her enough to other kids: She's not yet 2. Two year olds don't really need to play with other kids. It's great if they want to, but they don't play with them, they play alongside them. She sounds perfectly bright and very typically developing.

post #20 of 29

Hello,

I read your post and I am not well versed in Echolalia. But from what your post says your daughter is developing completely normal.

I have over a decade of experience working with children of her age and an Human Development and Family Studies degree.

Both my experience and my education say that all is well.

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