Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adventures in echolalia

Perhaps it is a bit immature to use your son's echolalia as a punishment for one's spouse, but I may have been guilty of that this past weekend.  In my defense I had been listening to Isaac echo his letter sounds incessantly for days- to and from school, during meals, bath time, ALL THE TIME.  My eye was starting to twitch and a bout of normal spousal annoyance caused me to suggest to Isaac that he tell daddy what sound every letter makes while raspberry picking, but that he had to wait until we got to the u-pick farm and was helping daddy.  Only daddy.  "OK," he said, innocent of my malice.  Isaac was feeling a little "off" that day due to some not great food choices and so the echoing was kicked up a few notches- something that spectrum kids do to self-regulate.  Am I horrible person or just a mom desperate for a break and some empathy?  You decide.  Quietly.  To yourself.  I don't care.

The echoing is always with us, although it is sometimes less obvious.  Like on the way home from school on Monday- Isaac proceeded to tell me that so & so was "big and fat".  Now, my kid is not prone to noticing physical differences in people, and since he's used this phrase to affectionately describe his grandfather I can say with confidence that he is echoing the part of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that says "He wasn't a little caterpillar anymore.  He was a big, FAT caterpillar."  Either way, we had a conversation about calling people fat not being nice.  He apologized.  This was the same day that Isaac hopped out of school echoing letter sounds and his very nice teacher said, "He does that all day, it's so cute."  "Oh, Kara...," I said, "if it ever gets old, just redirect him."  On the way home I was asking Isaac about his day and rather than answer me he would use his repetitive jargon as filler, as an ANSWER.  "Ticka ticka".  After 4 tries of this I lost my patience.  I "may" have raised my voice:
"Isaac, when I'm asking you a question you need to answer me.  Not say ticka ticka.  Only YOU know what ticka ticka means.  Say yes or no!"
"Thank you."
"Mommy, don't yell."
"I'm sorry, but you know how to talk and you aren't and that makes me frustrated."  Just goes to show that you gotta know how to pick your battles.  Sometimes it's self-regulating and sometimes it's filler.  Use clues and context and before you know it you too can be yelling at your cute four year old in the car. : (

As we stepped onto the porch to leave for school this afternoon we heard a bird chirping loudly somewhere up in the trees.  "Mommy, what's that sound?"  "It's a bird chirping."  Dramatic pause.  "It's an animal in trouble!  We have to help him!"  Thanks, Wonder Pets.  "Nope, no we don't.  You need to walk to the car. We're going to be late for school."

Stay tuned for the next edition of Adventures in Echolalia.
~The End~


  1. If you do not know what echolalia is, please click on the embedded link and scroll down until you see the definition.

  2. So when the phone rings & I sing out "the phone... the phone is ringing!" am I setting a bad example for my child? Who is 9 and still watches Wonder Pets, Dora, Diego, & Backyardigans? Oh, and Blues Clues, can't forget Blues Clues! She still borrows phrases from books & tv but mercifully did pass out of the echolalia phase.

  3. Christen- that song is irresistibly catchy. I do the same thing. My husband threatened to change my cell ringer to "the phone...the phone is ringing!"