Echolalia – Can you stop it

by beagooddad on March 26, 2007

If you enjoy this post, make sure you subscribe to Be A Good Dad to receive new posts in your email or feed reader

A frequent echolalia search that leads people to this blog is “Can you stop echolalia?” or something along those lines.

The quick answer is that I don’t know. I remember reading a blog written by a group of college aged kids with Asperger’s Syndrome (they quit updating so I lost track of the URL). I remember one of them talking about how most of the time he is able to prevent his echolalia during the day around other people but a lot of the time while walking around the house alone and while falling asleep, he would feel the impulse and not try to stop it. He felt it was very soothing.

Here is what I can tell you. All of this is based on my observations of our 4 year old son. I have know idea what happens when people with echolalia get older.  I really don’t have any idea what happens to anybody other than Pookie.

Don’t try to stop echolalia

The few times I tried to stop Pookie from talking during echolalia moments, they ALWAYS ended with him getting mad and me giving up. Pookie is hardly ever a mad kid. So when something makes him mad, I pay attention. For whatever reason, the echolalia is important for him. It seems like it helps him process information, filter out other noises, and even entertains him.  It is not causing himself or anybody any harm.

One of his really strong echolalia moments is when he has pooped and we don’t notice for a little while. The chatter gets to a point where he clearly isn’t noticing much else. I believe that he is noticing something that he does not like but doesn’t know how to make the situation better. When I ask him what is in his pullup, he almost always says, “Poopie” and rushes into the bathroom to get changed.

Try to redirect it

We spend a lot of time trying to redirect the echolalia into normal conversations. We ask him questions on whatever the topic is. We say the next lines trying to get him to exchange lines with us. The purpose of all of this is to get him used to the back and forth of conversation. I think it helps teach him that when he says stuff, people are listening and going to respond and then expect him to say something back.

It seems to work. This has been 1000 times more effective than trying to stop him from talking. Plus, the goal is to get him more vocal. We want to encourage the talking not stifle it. We’re just trying to teach him how to use the words more appropriately and creatively by constantly engaging him.

Pay attention to the words

Based on what little I have read and what I have seen with Pookie, us adults really need to pay attention to what he is saying no matter how nonsensical it might seem. There are some pretty well defined phases. With Pookie, the echolalia started with him repeating lines from books, videos, stories, and people. A common exchange would go something like, “Do you want milk?” “Do you want milk?” “I want milk.” “I want milk.” Whatever he heard is what would come out of his mouth.

Then, one day, we started noticing that what he was saying would seem to fit. One really common one that I remember from early on is when we would get ready to swim, Pookie would start saying lines from Just Grandma and Me. It took us a couple minutes before we noticed that he was talking about going to the beach. Which is where they swim…and we were going swimming.

Pookie is getting verbal enough that it is often difficult to tell if his funny comments are completely made up or not. At dinner the other day, he had finished his corn on the cob and Geetle had decided not to try hers. Pookie stared at Geetle’s corn and said, “I have room in my tummy.” I’ve never heard the line anywhere but Pookie has a lot of verbal sources beside just me. I have know idea if that was made up by Pookie or something he heard somewhere else.  Either way, it fit the context of what was going on perfectly.

Sometimes when I hear people constantly quoting movie lines that they liked, I wonder if all of us don’t have a little bit of echolalia in us.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }