Information taken from Teach me to Talk


Echolalia is repeating or “echoing” messages or words that another person has said.  A child who exhibits echolalia may repeat favorite television shows, songs, lines from a book, and / or everyday speech that he / she has heard.  Children are often characterized as “echolalic” when they repeat more than they use new words or phrases on their own.  Echolalia is a normal part of early speech and language development.  A child needs to be able to imitate speech between 12-18 months of age.  However, if repeating continues after 18 months of age it may be indicative of poor comprehension skills.  Children who exhibit echolalia after 18 months of age may imitate a lot of words; however, they are not truly understanding and comprehending what they are saying. 

There are 2 types of echolalia.  Delayed echolalia refers to imitation of messages or words hours, days, weeks, or even months after the child hears the original message.  Immediate echolalia refers to imitation of words or messages immediately or soon after the child hears the original message.  An example of this would be if you asked “Do you want cookie?” and the child responded with “Do you want cookie?”.


Children with autism often times exhibit echolalia.  Researchers found that 85% of people with autism exhibit echolalia.  It should be noted that echolalia is not always negative.  In fact, it is a positive sign that children with autism are more likely to be able to use language to communicate.  Echolalia occurs more often and lasts longer in children who have autism.   


Here are some tips that may help you at home:

  • Model language for your child throughout several different activities (i.e., model “no” or “don’t like” if you know that your child is finished with an activity or if he / she does not want something)
  • Model choices for your child by omitting “Do you want ___ or ___”
  • Decrease the number of questions that you ask your child
  • Avoid using praise with your child’s name (i.e., “Good job, Billy”). Instead say “Good job”.
  • Avoid greetings with your child’s name (i.e., “Hello, Billy”). Instead say “hello” or “good-bye”. 


We will develop an individualized treatment plan for each child based off of his / her current needs.  We will work on improving comprehension skills by utilizing techniques to help decrease echolalia.  A home program will be taught to caregivers so that follow-through can be completed at home. 

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