Echolalia and Creative Play

by beagooddad on June 27, 2008

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I have a very strong love/hate relationship with the new self-checkout lines at stores. I love not waiting in line. I hate the talking that the machines make.

Most people virtually ignore the noises, I’m sure, but not Pookie. They have become very strong echolalic scripts. “Please insert cash to complete transaction” and “Thank you for shopping at Meijer” have become a staples around our house.

The other day, Pookie wanted to carry a bunch of these cool soft toy blocks that we have from one floor of the house to the other. BeAGoodMom suggested that he put them in one of our environmentally friendly reusable Meijer bags. So the rest of the day, he kept loading and unloading the bag and the toys followed us from room to room.

Later that night, I noticed that he was doing some very repetitive movements before he would put each item in the bag. A few minutes later, I said to BAGM, “He’s playing grocery store.” Sure enough, he was scanning each item and stacking it very carefully in the bag which is quite a bit of real old school creative play if you ask me.

I get a fair amount of search engine traffic from people trying to figure out “how to stop echolalia.” We spend very little time trying to completely get rid of echolalia. We do a little bit of work on getting him to learn when echolalia is appropriate or not. But one thing we know about echolalia is that the scripts are normally either calming or entertaining for Pookie. We have had some decent success with working on language development by trying to interact with and steer the scripts rather than trying to stop them and talk about something else.

Another thing we have tried in the past is to get him to do pretend play about the script he is using. This is one of the first times I remember seeing it happen so directly…and he thought it up entirely on his own.

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