Children who are echolalic imitate what they have heard someone say in everyday life, lines they’ve listened to from a book, lyrics to a song, or a script from a show or movie. For example, a toddler who is exhibiting echolalia can quote long segments from a favorite TV show or sing an entire song word for word, but he can’hope 4 kids preschool & infant/toddler center ask for milk when he needs it or answer a question his dad asks him. Echolalia is one of the characteristics sometimes noted in children with autism.
The silver lining in this is that echolalia is actually a positive sign that children with autism may eventually be able to learn to use language to communicate. Echolalia is also a part of normal language development. This phase begins around 18 months of age when a child has mastered imitating words and is just beginning to imitate phrases. Experts tell us that echolalia peaks around 30 months of age, and declines significantly by the time a toddler turns three. In children with autism, echolalia occurs with greater frequency and lasts for a longer period of time than it does in children with typically developing language. For example, a child with typically developing language may be able to quote a few phrases from a favorite TV show, sing a song, or learn to count to ten by rote.
First of all, children with apraxia begin speech therapy with very poor imitation skills. Once they learn how to repeat what they’ve heard, they seem to want to hang onto this phase for a very long time. Echolalia is classified as immediate echolalia or delayed echolalia. Immediate echolalia is the repetition of words or phrases that occur immediately or very soon after the original words are spoken. Delayed echolalia is the repetition of words or phrases that are echoed after the fact, even hours, days, weeks, or months later.