Our Autism Story – Day 14 – “Echolalia”
Brahm has echolalia. Echolalia is the “meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder”. Many people with autism have echolalia. Echolalia was one of the symptoms we could easily identify before and after his autism diagnosis. Brahm’s echolalia was much worse when he was younger, but still shows up periodically.
A few examples of Brahm’s echolalia:
Brahm will answer a question by repeating the last part of the question as his answer. For example: us – “Brahm do you want pizza or broccoli?” Brahm – “broccoli”. And then if we flip the order: us – “Brahm do you want broccoli or pizza?” Brahm – “pizza”. Brahm doesn’t really demonstrate comprehension of the question or thoughtfulness of the answer.
Brahm will also script, which means he will say “trained statements”. For example, if we say “We love you so much big guy”, Brahm may respond back with “love you so much” (scripting) or may revert to more of an echolalia response “love you so much big guy” (repeating the exact same phrase even though it doesn’t make sense).
A kind of relatively unknown side effect of echolalia is that Brahm will sometimes repeat a word or phrase completely out of context weeks or months after he heard it. He definitely keeps us on our toes!
P.S. – If you notice Brahm “echoing”, it sometimes helps to rephrase the question or to use visual aids. For example, you could show him pictures of pizza and broccoli and ask him to point to the one he wants.