Friday, October 4, 2013

ECHOLALIA.... echolalia... ECHO... echo...

A recent discussion on our Facebook Fanpage discussed echolalia.

Ron wrote: My son is 12 years old, high functioning ASD. Is there a way to reduce echolalia? I know it's part of his coping mechanism but sometimes he'll say the same thing 30 plus times in a very short period. For example he was in the pool and said "there's a shark in the pool!" every 30 seconds or so.

Laura thought:  If he's high functioning, I would say that consistently reinforce that it only needs to be said once. Being 12, and high functioning, he'll have a motivation to fit in with everyone else. Also consistency is the key with Autism. So being consistent and telling him what is necessary - should hopefully work good luck.

Aspen said:  Reinforce him when he says it only once, or slowly work down to only once. Immediate reinforcing works best, praise, a toy, candy, whatever. But I would imagine a token system would work well also. Use the token (sticker chart, or anything he can build up to use for rewards) as the immediate reinforcer, let him put the sticker on the chart or put balls in a jar, etc.  When he has enough he can use it to gain something, such as more computer time or something motivating to him.

Tina suggested:  Give him a certain amount of times he can say it. "You can say it 3times and then no more"

Trisha said: It might also help to frontload him before social events that it’s “confusing” to other people when he repeats himself which interferes with communication and friendships.  Allow him certain consistent times or other places during the day, however, where/when he CAN engage in using this “borrowed language/video talk/scripting” (whatever you want to call it) in private environments so he can compartmentalize and have expected times where he can still get it out of his system and not have to eliminate his coping mechanism.

Zoe mentioned:  My four yr old does that too calling out the same thing over and over today it's mum mum mum mum mum mum and although I respond first time she keeps going it drives me crazy

Cory responded:  I have had some luck using communication cards. I had a student that would say "Hi, how are you?" Over and over.......we started using cards with him that said things like "I need some help" or "what are we doing next?" Then we would have him read the card and supply him with the answer or support. This was a bit of a guess on our side what he wanted, but it helped a lot in stopping the “hi, how are you”.

Brenda commented:  Social speech therapy is helpful. Talk about - and practice!! - reciprocal conversation and point out that one-sided domination makes the other person uncomfortable. There are several great apps that help them practice. Mobile Education has several for about $8 each. My 9-year-old practices constantly but still reverts to the echolalia. It makes her feel good and she LOVES when I humor her and continue responding 

Suzannah said:  Can he whisper? Maybe he can practice whispering things he needs to repeat. You could cue him," that's for whispering" or something like that.

Emily asked:  Have you looked into auditory processing cds to help with better auditory pathways eg jias? Will help calm his system.

Patty said:  We've been doing this for a while and it's made a difference with our daughter, she went through that phase and lots of other 'phases' -  Integrated listening, visual and movement therapy training for clinicians & educators; programs for home use also available.

Kevin observed:  He is coping. It seems to be you who is having trouble coping.

Echolalia is described as an automatic repetition of vocalizations made by another person (thanks Wikipedia!).  Echolalia is a normal part of development for babies/toddlers but can occur as a part of a disability with older children/adults.  It can be immediate – where the person repeats what they JUST heard, or delayed – where the person repeats a phrase they have heard previously, which is what Ron was describing in his question.  Chatterbox displays both immediate and delayed echolalia – and I definitely understand, and share, Ron’s frustration with this way of communicating!  However, I think that it is important that we recognize that it is a form of communication and a way that children with autism cope with their environment, while realizing that it can be difficult for other children to understand why they are doing it.  While looking up some strategies for dealing with echolalia I found a great article on Teach Me To Talk – you can read it here:

Personally we have found that repeating what Chatterbox has said, when she says it, helps as she seems to realize what she is doing and tries to stop.  If she repeats a question we have asked, we answer it as if she is actually asking us the question and we try to take what she says as if she meant to say it – sometimes this frustrates her but it does seem to help her learn that echolalia is not functional.  Sometimes we answer the first time she asks something and then just tell her "we already told you the answer" if she keeps asking the same question. If we are out and she repeats things other people nearby say, we tell her that it is rude to listen to other people’s conversations.  I don’t know if we are doing the right thing but, as parents, we are doing our best!

Odd Socks Mummy is wearing matching socks and feeling very strange!  Maybe she is coming down with something.

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