Do you have a child with echolalia?
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog, my son started out with two words that he subsequently lost, and he became nonverbal for a season of his life. We were fortunate to start early intervention very young and have a very good response to it. We were stuck, however, with echolalia for quite a while. I understand that it’s easier than nonverbal, as far as giving your child a voice and helping them to be heard. I was grateful for him to have any words at all, even if they were echolalic. The thing was, he still often ran into communication difficulties that would cause meltdowns.
As I’ve said, I’m just a special needs mom, a homeschooler, sharing what works for us in case it can also be something that works for you. So here goes, I am going to share what help my son overcome echolalia in case it can help you too…
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If you want to skip the reading and listen while you clean, exercise, or eat chocolate, etc… head straight to the bottom for the video version. As always, it is my “real-real life” without reshooting and clipping together a ton of takes, but it works! 😉
Parrot training to address echolalia-
What finally worked for us was a tip from our BCBA (at the time). She explained to us that some autistic children can overcome echolalia by being trained to speak the same way you would train a parrot. I know… it sounded crazy to me too! Teach my kid to talk like a parrot? Really? Really.
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The more we talked about it, the more it made sense. I hadn’t realized there was even a way to train a parrots to talk, but it relies on patterns. The more we talked, the more it made sense to me. My son had always been very good with patterns, loved patterns, and was able to easily identify them. From what I’ve seen and read many ounces of children have this same trait.
How I put it into practice-
Here’s how it works: you model question, model the answer, then, finally, you model the question again. This creates a sort of pattern that they are compelled to complete. Make a big deal of them providing the answer for some great encouragement to keep trying!
I started out by doing it with my son’s school breakfast calendar. At the time, he was going to a special education preschool and ate breakfast with his class at the cafeteria. When I picked him up, the conversation went like this: “What did you have for breakfast? I had pancakes and peaches. What did you have for breakfast?”
The first time that I modeled the “question-answer-question”, he looked a little puzzled. Honestly, he looked a little shocked like maybe he was wondering how I knew what he had for breakfast. Haha… Point is, you could see the wheels turning in his head. Within a few days, he began to answer the question without me having to model it. I believe it was about a month or so before he was starting to get really good at answering questions all the time. Every once in a while I would notice some echolalia slipping in. I would just bring back out the “question-answer-question” model and it would kind of get us back on track.
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing AutismEveryday Autism: An Inside Look at Parenting a Child on the Autism SpectrumAutism Every Day: Over 150 Strategies Lived and Learned by a Professional Autism Consultant with 3 Sons on the SpectrumEveryday Games for Sensory Processing Disorder: 100 Playful Activities to Empower Children with Sensory DifferencesAutism Intervention Every Day!: Embedding Activities in Daily Routines for Young Children and Their Families
How has this method worked for you?
As I’ve said your mileage may vary, but my heart’s greatest desire is to help children find their voice and encourage their parents any way possible! This may work for you or not, but if you’re looking for something to try, this is a great place to start. Hopefully, this is helpful to you or someone you know. If you find this helpful and it works for you please come back and let me know and share it with a friend!
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