A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Echolalia’

Aw, Peanut Butter and Jelly

Yesterday winter came back with a vengeance. We had snow. SNOW. I know it’s April. I know we live in the Midwest. However, after a weekend in which we got to experience our first day above 70 degrees since early October, it seemed like such a travesty that we had to suffer through SNOW again. *sigh*

As it snowed, quite steadily, throughout the late afternoon and evening, Tate let us know his feelings about said weather. “Aw, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches”. He said this numerous times. He also said that the weather was “ridiculous”. He was NOT happy. I think it was mostly because he wants to go outside and play with our hose and water…and, well, when it’s 31 degrees and snowing, that’s just NOT going to happen. He demands that spring return.

This morning I had to scrape my van. For the duration of winter, I had been parking the van in the garage, because in November my van doors froze shut for a day. After a hailstorm this weekend that dinged up Hubz’s car, I am parking my beat-up mom-mobile out there. The downside to parking outside in a freak snow shower? My electrical sliding doors were frozen shut–again. To quote Tate, “Aw, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches”. Ugh. Luckily, the sun was shining this morning and the passenger side of my van was thawed enough that we could get into the van via those doors. Doubly lucky, those are the doors that the kids use to exit the car in the carpool line at school. I didn’t have enough energy this morning to be “that” mom….

It’s funny how the things our kids say become part of our family lexicon. Lately, when I get frustrated or peeved, I find myself uttering, “Aw, Peanut Butter and Jelly!”. I guess that is better than “dammit” or “S#!%” or the big ‘ol F— word. Clearly, in his social groups at school he is being taught substitute phrases for expletives. I’ll take it…and it sounds a whole lot better when it becomes echolalic . A second grader muttering “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches” over and over again is much more appealing, and a lot less attention getting than, “Oh, s#!%!”.

Oh, poop.

Echolalia is something that we’ve dealt with since Tate started to talk. At first we were all, “yay, words!!”. After a while, it became clear that he was stuck on certain words…and as we found out later, that is, indeed, echolalia.

When he was 2, “go!” was a favorite. Everything was, “GO!”. As he got older and into EC preschool, he favored, “Pix, mix, fix!” He loved the word families. When he was four, “ghost” became another one. In Kindergarten, he punctuated everything with, “Ewww! Diapers!” It seems only natural, I guess, that his current echolalic fixation is none other than “Poop!” (It really is the word poop…so I guess I can count myself lucky that he doesn’t favor crap or shit.)

Every.other.word out of his mouth tends to be “poop!”. It’s driving us all a bit mad, really.


“Tate, do you want lemonade or water?” 

“I want melonade, Mommy Poop.” 

“Try again.”

“I want lemonmelonade, Mommy….Poop!”

Or another one:

“Tate, what is 5-3?”

“2 Poop!”

Or, his favorite is to say all of his classmates’ names….and according to Tate, they all have the same surname–“Poop”! There is “Allie Poop” and “Joanie Poop” and “Nora Poop” and “Ryan Poop” and “Alex Poop”. Alex is a new kid. He started last week. His teachers now have hyphenated names…as do the specialists. His ABA therapists do, too. No one is exempt from this latest echolalia.

I am officially “Mommy Poop” and Hubz is “Daddy Poop”. Jake is “Jake the Poop” and Cole, well, Cole has a special distinction….he’s “Cole Horse Poop”. And every single time Tate says it, Cole retorts, “I am NOT Cole Horse Poop. I am Cole (insert middle and last name here)!!!” Both Jake and Cole are done with it. Jake is even trying to bribe Tate to not say “poop” with some of his prized, precious Bey Blades. No dice. 

As with any echolalia, we are trying to think of what started this obsession. We are trying to address it. His ABA team says to ignore it. We tried, but now he’s getting bold. He is establishing eye contact (I know!!) and shouting it. He will even say, “Mommy Poop. Hey, I said, “poop”.” Just to get a rise out of us. At school he is doing the same thing.

At school when he says poop, it is rewarding. He has 5 classmates who giggle or tell the teacher. I pretty much know the tone of voice of each kid in his class now, as he mimics them perfectly as they tell the teacher. Tate loves those scripts. 

His teacher has an “off-topic” chair that Tate sits in when the poop talk gets to a Code Red level. he does stop, but the past few school days, he has been in there more often than not. We even implemented an “off-topic” chair at home this weekend. Tate spent 10 minutes there this morning. He rattled off a string of poop talk as he got it out of his system. 

I never knew how much the word “poop” could be said in a 10 minute interval. Holy, moly. I think he even gets anxiety about the reactions that he’s going to get from people by saying “poop”. It is so consuming right now. 

And I am at a loss. I want my conversational boy back. He was doing great until about the middle of last week. It possibly could be tied to the hitting incident at school. Or the fact that he has a new bus route. Or that they added a new student to his classroom. Or that the weather is changing. Or that there have been a few discussions about summer. Or that he started playing his special needs soccer again. 

I guess what gets me, ultimately, is that with every new “behavior” there is always the sleuthing involved to try to figure out exactly why it is happening. That is exhausting…and puts me in that hard place. 

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.

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