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talk to me about echolalia

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi

My son (2.5 yo) has what is turning out to be quite mild ASD/SPD and after a 6 month circus of assessments and therapy I decided to take on all of his therapy at home (with some occasional input/consultations from professionals) and it has been going really well! 

He has made HUGE strides in so many ways and I can't help but feel so much pride in giving him some tools to really blossom.

 

DS's biggest "symptom" of his ASD is his echolalia. At this point it is mostly delayed, with some immediate. Lately he is just a complete chatterbox  blahblah.gif - basically when he is awake, he is talking. And most of it is reciting books, songs, interesting things that we have talked about or that he has learned etc. He has made leaps and bounds in communicating using scripts as well as spontaneous language to get our attention, in greetings, to make requests/protests and to express his feelings and talk about some other things. His language comprehension is pretty amazing too, so his echolalia is not the kind that is rooted in misunderstanding at all. I am beyond thrilled that he is so verbal when I meet parents of kids with ASD who have so many more communicative obstacles.

BUT he is kind of driving me crazy orngtongue.gif! And I'd like to help him increase his non-echolalic speech even more while decreasing his recitations.

 

 

I've read a lot about echolalia and spoken to some professionals about it. It seems that they don't really have that much to say about "treating" it. A lot of them just tell me that I should be happy that DS uses his echolalia communicatively and that his capacity for spontaneous language is slowly growing and developing as time goes on. We do some exercises and speak to DS in ways to encourage spontaneous language while also teaching him appropriate scripts to use.

 

I guess what I'm wondering, and what I'd like to hear from mamas who have been there with young and extremely verbal echolaliacs, is where does all this end up? What will his speech be like in a few years as we go down this path? I've read about adult Aspies who still rely on some scripts or constantly have recitations running in their heads but can also communicate in a pretty "normal" fashion- has anyone seen this in their children (or themselves)?

Has anyone (or their speech therapist) done anything with their LO that really helped with echolalia?

 

Really, I'd just like to hear about your experiences dealing with this often hilarious, frequently adorable,  and sometimes completely irritating behaviour that goes along with ASD!

 

Thanks as always!

post #2 of 11

Hi Expat-mamma,

 

Nice to hear that your son is doing so well!  It seems as if your son does have many developmental parallels with mine who also began to THRIVE when I did dietary interventions as a toddler AND had pretty significant echolalia.  Are you SURE however that some of it isn't due to deficits in receptive language?  I THINK my son's was due to his expressive language skills far exceeding his comprehension so he was "practicing" language but unable to contextualize it easily.  Still, to this day, his language can be more concrete as a result and based upon what he sees.  It isn't scripted but it isn't removed from "reality" into abstract or thoughtful discourse, do you know what I mean?  He can DO that too, but, it is much more effortful and requires me or another adult to help him frame his thoughts.  I hope that as he get's older he will make a leap into more abstract thinking but I still see gaps in comprehension due more to his not being able to put what he sees into a context that makes sense to him.  He get's the details but not the whole picture...do you know what I mean?

 

If your son is unfolding this way, where he needs a "context" for language to become more social, you'll find that when he attends a preschool (if he's not already) and becomes a "friend" that more appropriate use of language takes on greater importance for him.  My son would find ready conversation in the activity of play such as here goes the plane, or let's run over here, etc....the language was based on the reality of the play and was shared back and forth with friends.  He had a great preschool experience and made wonderful friends.

 

In this context my son dropped echolalia and it happily didn't reappear!  And, it didn't come back unless he found himself stressed out or overwhelmed.  He is 11 now and is still a "concrete" thinker and needs context to share conversation which is usually about shared experience or an activity he is doing with a friend or us, but, he expresses himself pretty appropriately.  (his tone of voice being blunt is now more of an issue!)

 

Have fun with all the language and look forward to school and friendships.  I think you'll see his language shift then.

post #3 of 11

We had some of this early on.  Search this forum for echolalia and you should find some useful threads.  It turned out that I couldn't be sure that mine was truly echolalia after reading them.

post #4 of 11

One of my DD had echolalia from age 2 to about 4 (she still occasionally quotes or repeats things, but it is always in an appropriate way and relevant to the topic at hand) she had a PDD/SPD diagnosis at that time.

 

Now at 7, I doubt she would qualify for either- though she remains quirky.wink1.gif

 

We did not do speech therapy, but she did PT and OT.

 

Upon evaluation, it was determined that she used echolalia a few ways:

 

1. To auditorily reinforce what she was hearing - she would talk to herself (she often would repeat questions asked of her and then answer them) or repeat directions while doing them

2. As a script- after hearing or reading (she was hyperlexic) something she used that same phrase, song, statement, word if it related as a way of communicating and/or as a way of connecting two separate events ( she would quote a story line she heard about going to bed when told it was bedtime) or to answer a question asked of her.

3. As a way to clarify : She would repeat things spoken to her when she was unsure or did not know something

4. As amusement: when playing she sometimes would quote or echo complete stories, songs, or conversations. It was her early stages of 'play' and gave her a framework to start from to move to imaginary play.

 

 

She now has excellent speech and has always been very good at communicating-- that is the reason she was PDD and not ASD as a young child. The echolalia was strongest from 2- 3 with both echolalia and spontaneous speech.  Then it slowly mixed in with more spontaneous speech until only occasionally does she echo back and it is often either as a response to a question or as auditory feedback before she answers

 

.Her receptive skills and vocabulary (as evaluated by verbal and non-verbal assessments) was always strong. But her speech patterns and intonation can occasionally be odd-- she also to this day uses funny little ways of saying things (they are always relevant).

 

 

OT did wonders for SPD and we also saw a huge social leap from age 4-5 in interaction with other kids. She prefers her twin or adults, but started to play/interact with other kids about age 4.

 

Glad to hear your DS is doing so well!!

post #5 of 11

My 14 yr old DS has shown delayed echolalia since age 3. He wasn't diagnosed on the spectrum until he was 11. He never had a speech delay per se - just very quirky speech and frequent recitations of ANYTHING he'd heard. He could also be pretty pendantic (professor-like). He'd memorize public announcement spots on PBS or pharmaceutical commercials, and then recite them later, at random. He was always singing or talking. He could have a fairly normal conversation with you, "How are you Jacob?" "Good" "What is your favorite color?" "Blue" "Do you want more chicken?" "No, I'm done". He could ask me for things, and he'd sometimes ask my thoughts but it was always, "What is your favorite _______?" and then nothing more. Back and forth conversations were hard for him, and still are somewhat. He tends to still go on and on when he should pause for a response from me, and sometimes he doesn't respond when he should. 

 

When he started school, he would hardly talk at all to his teachers. He was virtually silent at school. Then he'd come home and talk for 3 hours straight! Every year, it was the same, the teacher would say, "Jacob is so quiet". We'd have to laugh because at home he never stopped talking. It took him almost 9 years to spontaneously offer ideas in school, though he was bursting with them. In 4th grade he was identified as gifted but it wasn't until 8th grade that he was able to spontaneously contribute in class. This was once he was place in a TAG class with several other "Aspies". 

 

He is now 14 and he still is a constant talker and noise maker. Some is delayed echolalic and some of it is what I would call verbal stimming. It honestly is one of most challenging things I deal with in our relationship. I try not to snap at him but sometimes I just need quiet! I suspect I have some auditory sensitivities, and I find constant repetitive noises extremely irritating, especially when doing something I need to concentrate on. He tends to give me a constant stream of consciousness and I have to remind him to please filter his thoughts and share what is important. Grocery shopping with him is a nightmare! He will point out anything and everything he sees that is of interest. I send him over to look at the magazines/card isle for a while! Its the only way I get peace.

 

Still, I love him bunches and he's a great kid. Sweet, and wicked smart. He says he only shares a 1/10 of what he is actually thinking. His mind is a buzzing whirrrrrr. He is self aware enough to know its annoying, and he feels bad about it sometimes, but I think mostly accepts its just part of who he is. He fits in perfectly fine in social settings once he warms up, and his repertoire of funny phrases and voices is used mostly for humor and are always relevant to conversation. He is really very funny. I sometimes wonder if Robin Williams or Jim Carrey are on the spectrum, LOL. I feel for their moms! Its not easy, but hang in there, and just try to love him and find the humor in it. And I know I am not the only mama of spectrum kids who wears their son's noise-reducing headphones once in a while. I would suggest picking a pair up! 

post #6 of 11

I was echolalic when I was very young.  I wanted to participate in friendship with other kids, so I repeated what they said to each other.  I had undiagnosed language delays, and a lot of undiagnosed other stuff.  I didn't know that the words people said to each other actually meant anything.  All I could understand was that people said words to each other, so wanted to say words too.  I was really lacking a connection between words and meaning.  I outgrew it though.  These days, I'm fairly articulate. 

post #7 of 11

YoungSon was somewhat echolalic when he was little. He would latch on to a line (or a whole paragraph) and it was as if it would get stuck, like the needle on an old-fashioned record. It would replay, over and over. And over and over. The same line would last for days or weeks, then he would drop that one, only to replace it with something new. Maddening, to put it politely. At that stage, say from age 5 to 10 (?), he also had major sensory issues, and noticeable quirky behavior of all sorts. We had basically no therapeutic intervention at all, for a variety of reasons - insurance wouldn't cover it, wait lists were too long, not a philosophical match with my parenting styles; various reasons.

 

To make a long story short, at 16, he has outgrown virtually all the symptoms that led to the PDD-NOS diagnosis in the first place. His speech is a little stiff, sort of scripted sometimes. Like he knows it is nice to ask me how my day was when I come in after work. So he does. In exactly the same words every day. And he needs me to respond in a predictable way, although I can get silly and playful to tease him as well. A funny example is that he heard it might be good to "butter me up" with a compliment, before asking for something (money, a ride, whatever). So he does, in a very artificial, scripted way. He knows that I know what this is leading to, and I tease him about it. But it really got funny when he did this over the telephone: "Oh, Mom, you look absolutely radiant today. That blouse is so attractive. Can you pick me up?"  The way I write this, I am not sure it comes across as self-deprecating humor. He totally gets that he can't see if I am beautiful over the phone, that I know this is leading to a request. Another example of his social quirks is that he has to be totally conscious to use facial and body expressions as a communication tool. After a minor altercation at school, he said, "But I blinked 3 times and sighed loudly. Why didn't the kid understand that I was not interested?"

 

Anyway, I ramble on. My point was that YoungSon has outgrown most of the clearly autistic/echolalic symptoms, and learned to live with most of the others. I don't know if therapeutic interventions would have sped up the process, interferred with his natural development, or what. But life is pretty smooth these days!
 

post #8 of 11

Dd did a lot of echolalia at that age, and outgrew it after a few years.  I remember using a book called More Than Words to help her with speech, I think it addressed echolalia, it definitely had suggestions for helping with pronoun confusion.  None of the speech therapists we saw seemed to have any suggestions. 
 

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm so upset- earlier today I wrote a post with multiquotes responding to all of the great things that were said here.

The power went off and poof! It was gone. 

I don't have as much time now to try and recreate that post but I'll do my best.

First- THANKS. It has been really interesting and helpful to read about your experiences. My DS and your kids have so much in common and really, I'll be so happy if DS turns out as wonderful as yours sound! It's nice to know that DS will likely develop better communication skills and be JUST FINE... but quirky! It's nice to hear especially that even without intensive speech therapy, your kids' language and communication did evolve and get better. I forget sometimes how young DS is and how much of his childhood he has ahead of him to develop and grow and change. It's so hard to imagine it though when I know he isn't following the same path as all the kids I see around us. 

 

Sometimes I think that with all the "hype" around autism spectrum disorders I get so wrapped up in worry and trying to find ways to help DS along that I forget what I really believe is true in a lot of ways about ASDs- that it is a different mode of development for kids, that it's not the norm and so we don't quite understand it yet- but that kids with ASDs DO develop and grow and change they just do it differently and often the end result is also a bit different. With echolalia this seems to be especially true- it's interesting to read about it as a gestalt style of language acquisition.

 

It seems some of the moms here of older kids sounded like they went with the flow a lot more before all the autism "hype", accepting that their kid was different, quirky, developing along a different path and having different needs along the way. In the end I want this to be our story too. I feel like I stress way too much about all of this and want to enjoy my son and his childhood MORE and fear what's in store for him in the future a whole lot less. It's really helpful reading all of your experiences. Thanks again.

post #10 of 11

Hope it's not too late to chime in...

 

My son (5 now) was echolalic and was diagnosed as autistic (and also had SPD). He was 2.75 when I realized he had never said one original thing. When evaluated for speech therapy, the SLP told us he was using his echolalia to communicate which was a good thing (his receptive language was excellent). There was a waiting list for speech therapy, but she suggested that his occupational therapy (he was soon starting that at the time) might help with his speech. I hope I say this right because it's been a while, but she told us that since he also had motor planning issues, the OT would hopefully help him build pathways in the brain to help his body do what his brain wanted. If that happened, maybe this pathway-building would help his mouth say the things his brain wanted.

 

I'm not sure how interested you are in this, but we did change his diet around the same time he began OT, opting to try to the GFCF one, and although he presented no GI issues, we noticed that there was an improvement with his digestive process. At the same time of this improvement, his expressive language exploded and the echolalia decreased dramatically. He finally began speech therapy, and I credit his work with his SLP while we started the GAPS Diet to help him make the strides he did. He had been in speech therapy for about 7 months before we started GAPS, and within one month on GAPS he improved dramatically. He was done with speech 2 - 3 months after starting the diet. Currently we are a little over 1.5 years on GAPS (will maybe do another year, but mainly for me and DH lol), and our son speaks his thoughts very well. We even receive compliments from strangers about how well-spoken our son is when we're out in public. No one ever seems to realize he was ever on the spectrum. He's learned to read body language as well (something he seemed to not understand at all) and knows the right things to say and how to say them with the appropriate emotion. The SPD and stereotypy behaviors and stimming are gone too.

 

So... since you asked, that's what we did to help our son! :) Best to you and yours!

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks- yes DS has been on a gluten-free, soy-free, casein-free diet now for almost a year (with one break to see if it was making a difference- it was!).

 

Others have said the same thing about OT- What kind of OT did you do that made a big difference?

What are the indicators of motor planning difficulties?

 

Right now, DS does a lot of swinging type things which seems to really center and calm him. I know he has vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues so that makes sense. He also does gymnastics twice a week and swims a lot (when it is warm enough, which is most of the year here) and will start lessons this year too. These activities were recommended to me by an OT that I consult with and they've seemed to help a bit. He also does a ton of just playing outside, running and climbing play structures etc.

 

Lately DS has had a bit of an explosion in language it seems. I mean he is talking a ton (like I said, every minute of the day he is talking or singing), a great deal of it scripting and some original language as well as lots of adapted scripts, but also making up words and doing some strange babbling and experimenting with sounds and made-up words. It's strange because he didn't do a lot of babbling at all as a baby. He kind of made some sounds and then soon after his first birthday he was saying 2-3 word sentences and soon after that whole sentences (echoed mostly).

 

One thing that quiets DS when I need a moment of peace is to put headphones on him and play music through them. He will sit and relax and fiddle with a stuffed toy or just look around while listening intently to the music. It's totally different than when I play music on the stereo (without headphones). I have music on a lot and he just goes about his usual business, maybe talking a BIT less but not going silent like with the headphones.

 

It seems like other kids DS's age are soooo quiet compared to him. Barely speaking at all! Especially a lot of the little girls we know/see. I wonder what it must be like in their homes if their kid is always so silent. 

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