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Everything You Need to Know About Echolalia

What does echolalia sound like, and how can I begin to identify it?

Echolalia is a repetition of words or phrases that may include song lyrics, quotes from movies, or phrases and words used by others. Children often use echolalia to protest, request, label, or take turns in conversation (ASHA, 2022). There are two main kinds of echolalia: immediate and delayed. Immediate echolalia is when repetitions occur immediately, while delayed echolalia is when repetitions occur after a delay in time (this could be minutes, hours, or days!).

What populations typically exhibit echolalia?

Echolalia is usually seen in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), specifically younger populations.

What is an example?

A couple examples of echolalia in speech would be repeating numbers, colors, lines from shows,

or common phrases, such as “welcome to the happiest place on Earth!”, “coming to a theater near you,” “the wonder thing about Tiger,” and “get me out of here!”

Here are a few video examples we found:

How do we treat it?

While there are many different approaches we can take in therapy, a common approach to treating echolalia is called Natural Language Acquisition, which is an approach to language development that consists of predictable stages that lead to more structured communication. The first stage meets the child where they are at in their echolalic productions, acknowledging that these chunks (gestalt form) of language do not often show a difference between the meaning of words, or show the child’s understanding of the structure of words and how we put words together. As the child progresses in speech therapy, we start by breaking down these chunks to help the child to understand the rules of how we put words together to create meaning in communication. By breaking down these chunks, the child is able to then learn to recombine them into more meaningful phrases and sentences. Over time, the child will learn to do this spontaneously and independently.

How do we at Rockford Speech Therapy treat it specifically?

We use Natural Language Acquisition to help our clients who are gestalt language processors. We incorporate a lot of play to create the most natural environment for our clients, and then work to incorporate the above steps into each therapy session. Not only do our clients have fun, but they learn just as much!

What is one thing I can actively do to help my child with echolalia?

One easy strategy you can use in your daily routine is to repeat what your child said, and then add a phrase that sums up a more appropriate response. For example, if you notice your child may sing the same line of a song during times of stress, you can repeat that line back while adding “I am stressed!” afterwards.

What is a great resource for echolalia in speech?

We recommend the Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum: The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language by Marge Blanc. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here.

What should I do if I suspect my child has echolalia?

Don’t stress! Give us a call at 616-951-1077 or email us at, and we can set up a time to chat about your concerns, and answer any questions you may have.

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