What Is Echolalia?
Echolalia is a condition associated with autism. People with
echolalia repeat noises and phrases that they hear. They may not be able to
communicate effectively because they struggle to express their own thoughts. For
example, if asked a question, they might be able only to repeat the question
rather than answer it.
What Causes Echolalia?
Many forms of autism can lead to echolalia. Some patients
experience this issue only when they are distressed or anxious. Others
experience it all the time. This may eventually cause them to be mute because
they cannot express themselves.
Echolalia is a natural part of the language-learning process.
All children experience it at some point. Most of them are able to develop
independent thought as they age, but some continue to repeat what they hear.
Who Is at Risk for Echolalia?
All children experience echolalia when they learn a spoken
language. Those with communication disabilities hold on to echoed expressions
much longer. Autistic children are particularly susceptible to echolalia.
Adults who suffer from severe amnesia or head trauma may experience
echolalia as they try to regain their speaking abilities.
What Are the Symptoms of Echolalia?
The main symptom of echolalia is the repetition of phrases
and noises that have been heard. For example, a child with echolalia may repeat
a question instead of answering it.
Other signs of echolalia may include frustration during
conversations, depression, and muteness. A patient may be unusually irritable,
especially when asked questions.
How Is Echolalia Diagnosed?
Echolalia can be diagnosed by having a conversation with a
patient. If the patient struggles to do anything other than repeat what has
been said, he or she may have echolalia. Some autistic children are regularly
tested for this during their speech lessons.
Echolalia ranges from minor to severe. Some patients combine
phrases they know to make new ones. This may not reflect an answer to a
question. A doctor can identify the stage of echolalia and prescribe the
How Is Echolalia Treated?
Echolalia may be treated through the following methods:
A doctor can prescribe
antidepressants or anxiety medications to combat the side effects of echolalia.
This will not treat the condition itself, but it will help keep the patient
Patients may work with other people at home to develop their
communication skills. There are text and online training programs available to
help parents get positive responses from their children.
Some echolalia patients go to regular speech therapy sessions.
This helps them learn how to say what they are thinking.
What Is the Outlook for Echolalia?
Echolalia is not always permanent. Some patients go through
it only in childhood. For patients with permanent echolalia, life can be quite
frustrating. Most echolalia patients suffer from anxiety and depression because
they cannot communicate with others around them. Many refrain from speaking
How Is Echolalia Prevented?
Echolalia is a natural part of developing language skills. It
is not always a good idea to prevent it completely. To avoid permanent
echolalia, parents must encourage other forms of communication. Expose a child
to a wide variety of words and phrases. Remain patient during episodes of echolalia.
In time, most children are able to overcome their echolalia naturally.