Echolalia is quite commonly found in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recent studies have suggested that echolalia may be meaningful communication Read on to learn about a few intervention techniques that help in augmenting language of communicators.
The communicator’s use of echolalia may be because they do not know the correct response. Training them to say, “I don’t know” can help in them using the phrase when they do not know the answer to a question. Another approach is to teach them the appropriate response. For example, you can ask, “How are you doing?”, and say, “I’m fine.” immediately. This will help the child understand the correct response to the question.
AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) solutions such as AAC apps can be useful in augmenting the language of verbal communicators and help mitigate echolalia. The app can help them break down phrases into meaningful words and enable them to develop language that reflects their thoughts. AAC strategies can also help them learn new words and understand their meaning. With consistent AAC use, children can learn to use language for autonomous communication instead of giving scripted responses.
Communicators who repeat words without understanding their meaning can go on to alter the same phrases, indicating comprehension. They may also use more flexible language, suggesting independent thought. Though the child may occasionally use echolalia for self-stimulation when distressed or exhausted, they might begin to use phrases and sentences appropriately as they begin to understand language better. Echolalia can therefore be looked at as a positive step in language development, rather than a purposeless habit.