A family's story

Echolalic Insights

Echolalia is the repetition of things that are said, usually by someone else. They can be immediate or delayed. As many people familiar with Autism know, echolalia is quite common with children on the spectrum. Tate has been echolalic since he started talking.

Tate’s echolalia often serve as his reference for situations and experiences. When his anxiety begins to ramp up due to an upcoming event, even something as “typical” as going back to school for the week, he launches into an echolalia-thon. This morning, while he was up at 2:30 due to his high anxiety about returning to school today, he lived out several scenarios at school. Part of it broke my heart, because this is the only way I know about his “side” of his school experience, and part of it gave me insight into my beautiful boy’s musings…and fears.

Aaa-mee*, we don’t run in the classroom. That’s rude.
Dallas, we–we–we–we don’t hit our friends. No.
I sad. I sad. Dallas is on red.
Friends, friends, it’s time for story. Quiet!
I sad. I on yellow.
Where are my friends? Where did they go? I go home. No Ms. T. No Ms. V today.
Friends, we do not slam our crayons on the desk. No!

Through the echolalia, I learned how Tate processes through the fact that today is a “school” day. These are all usual experiences for him. I think he was merely working through his anxiety about a new week.

When he had settled down, and laid back on his pillow, I tucked him in, told him in a hushed voice that it was ok, and that school would be ok. I asked if he was scared, or if he was sad. “No, I’m fine.” Ahh, scripts…

I stayed next to him while he began to drift off to sleep. His breaths got more even, he stopped thrashing his lower extremities, and he sighed a content sigh…it was looking good for Snoozeville. Suddenly he sat up, bolt upright. Ughhhhh.

Jake, we don’t leave the poops in the potty. Flush them. That’s discussing. (Disgusting)
Cole, get off that table. Right now!
Tate and Cole, stop fighting. You have to share.
Cole, that’s rude. Naughty. Be nice to your brother. (This was Tate’s compilation of echolalia regarding some of his younger brother’s mischievous ways.)

I whispered to Tate that this was enough. He was ok, he needed to get some sleep. I re-tucked him in…again. I made sure his Spiderman blanket was going the right way, and rearranged his duckie blanket so that the edge was *just right* under his chin.

I love you, Tater. Get some sleep now.
Ok, Mommy. See you in the morning. Get some sleeps.
I will….good night.

After 2 and a half hours of on and off waking, Tate settled into a quiet sleep. He woke up at 7 am with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.

That kid…he never ceases to amaze me. After his mid-night musings, I was convinced he’d have a rough day…but no. He did great. In fact, he independently wrote the letter of the week and completed his in-class assignment with minimal prompts!!

I guess he just needed to talk it out and prepare himself for another school week in his own way.


Comments on: "Echolalic Insights" (1)

  1. It is like they record and play things back. Your son sounds much more coherent in his “playback” than mine. My son plays back our conversations at home and gives me little to nothing of what happens at school. If I do ask I usually get “played on the playground” which is a “script” he learned in ABA.

    The way you tell this experience is very haunting to me as a fellow ASD mama. I know what you must feel in those middle of the night moments when he sits upright like that and then a few hours later, he’s fine. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

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