Echolalia refers to the repetition of certain words or phrases spoken by someone else, either after the words were said, or later on. It is often associated as a function of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With an autistic child, echolalia may appear with more frequency versus children with standard developing language.

It is important that we support children by using echolalia to try to reshape it to help children communicate in a more natural way.

Following are some strategies that can be used to reduce echolalia:

 

Use simple words and phrases

When communicating with your child, try using simple words and sentences that he can comprehend. Do not repeat the sentence and wait for the child to process what you have said.

Prompt the correct response

Children tend to use echolalia when they do not know how to respond or have trouble turning their thoughts into words. To help them, you can provide a script. For instance, ask your child “What is our dog’s name?” and reply “Bob.” Or you may ask your child “What is the color of the book” and reply “blue”. Repeat this until your child has learned the right script. Remember, this will only work for questions that always have the same answer.

Use visuals

Using visual support is an important step of the strategy. Use a book that has pictures showing the language and have your child look directly at what is happening in the book. For example, while looking at the book, say, “This is an apple” and point it at the picture. You can even take his finger and point it at the apple and say “This is an apple”. Repeat until your child gives the correct response.

 

 

Do not ask questions

Avoid asking questions because when you ask questions, it gives your child the opportunity to repeat what you have said. Do not ask “Are you sleepy?” instead give the child the correct response like “I am tired, I am going to sleep”. This way your child will repeat what you have said.

Offer choices

When talking with your child, do not ask them a question, instead, give them a choice. Instead of asking them, try holding each item forward when offering the choices. For example, “Do you want _____ or _______?”. Be sure to model the names without the question tone at the end.

 

Model with a partner

Another strategy to reduce echolalia is to model with a partner.  Ask another person, maybe another student or a sibling your question and have them respond. For example, “Sara, what would you like to eat?” Sara will respond,” I want a banana.” Try this a few times in front of your child. Now ask your child what they want to eat.

Avoid using names

Avoid using your child’s name at the end of a sentence as they will start repeating it. When saying “Good Morning” say it without your child’s name. Or when you are praising your child, say “Good job!” instead of “Good job, Mike!”

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