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About echolalia

Echolalia consists on the repetition, (immediate or delayed) of words, phrases or/and sounds. Very common among autism.

  • Immediate echolalia – The person hears something and immediately after repeats it. Eg. You say↓
    “What did you do in school today?”
    And the person you’re talking to, says
    “What did you do at school today?”
    This might mean two things:
    The person might repeat this as a way of saying “I’ve listened what you said and I’m looking for the answer” (This is also very common among non autistics when they’re asked a difficult math question)
    It may also mean that the person can not answer, because he didn’t understand or a variety of reasons
  • Delayed echolalia: The person hears something from the TV, or a film, or other people, and repeats it minutes, hours or days after it was heard. My way of learning languages is using delayed echolalia, until I have the capacity to form my own phrases.
    Delayed echolalia might be “accurate” or “not accurate”, it depends on whether the person repeats what they heard when it’s in context of a conversation or if it’s not.
  • An autistic person hears his father saying “Do you want a cookie?” After some days, the person wants to ask for a cookie and tells his father “Do you want a cookie?” Because when this question was asked, the cookie materialised
    This is an “accurate” way of using echolalia, it has a clear communicative will.
    What could be considered as “not accurate” is for example if someone repeats sentences from a film instead of answering your questions.

Warning → Accurate and not accurate don’t mean “acceptable” and “unacceptable” . Using echolalia is completely okay and no one should try to stop it completely. I’ve used those terms to make it easier to understand.


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