Echolalia……….What It Is and What It Means

Echolalia…What It Is and What It Means

Echolalia is repeating or “echoing” what another person has said. 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. Professionals most often characterize children as “echolalic” when many of the words or phrases a child uses seem to be repetitions from a previous activity rather than new utterances a child comes up with on their own.

Children with echolalia use what many parents describe as “more advanced language” than they can typically generate. 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’t ask for milk when he needs it or answer a question his dad asks him. Even though this child “talks,” since he can technically say lots of words, he doesn’t seem to completely understand what he’s saying. In essence, he’s just repeating words without really being able to “use” them.

Echolalia is one of the characteristics sometimes noted in children with autism. In fact, researchers have found that up to 85% of people with autism who are verbal exhibit echolalia in some form. 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. This coincides with a child becoming conversational and truly beginning to talk on his own, generating his own original thoughts, asking new questions, and responding to questions appropriately.

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. However, he doesn’t do this repetitively several times a day, and when he does do this, it seems to “fit” what’s happened rather than leaving adults or other children around him wondering, “Okay…what’s that about?”

Children with motor planning issues, or apraxia, also can “get stuck” in this phase for a couple of different reasons. 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. Secondly, repeating may become the “motor plan” they learn best, and it may be easier for some of these children to map a previously rehearsed message than to come up with a new one. (Although it is true with apraxia that children can come up with spontaneous utterances better than imitated ones, this is not usually the case once they have been in therapy for a while. It may be easier to pull out a tried-and-true phrase or sentence than learn a whole new one.)

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. An example of immediate echolalia is the child who repeats a question such as, “Do you want some juice?” rather than responding yes or no.

Delayed echolalia is the repetition of words or phrases that are echoed after the fact, even hours, days, weeks, or months later. An example of delayed echolalia is a child who might sing, “Happy Birthday” when someone new enters her home.

Echolalia can also include not only the words spoken, but the exact imitation of a person’s inflection, tone of voice, and volume.

Professionals used to view echolalia as something that should be eliminated. However, current researchers tell us that many times echolalic speech can serve a purpose for children with autism. For example, a child who wants to go outside may say to his mother, “Let’s put your shoes on,” as his way of requesting this activity since he’s heard his mother say this many times just before he gets to leave the house. A child may say, “Want me to hold you?” when he’s crying or “It’s okay, Ben,” when he’s upset since his parents have said this to him in this context over and over again.

I’ll give you another real-life example. A darling little boy on my caseload last Christmas called Santa Claus “It’s Santa,” all season long because the first time his mother taught him this word, she declared enthusiastically, “It’s Santa!” He lifted the whole phrase and his mother’s elevated and joyful tone of voice as this character’s name. When his teacher at preschool asked him, “Who’s that?” it was appropriate for him to respond in this way, but during a speech therapy session when I gave him a choice for play by asking, “Do you want Santa or this reindeer?” and he replied, “It’s Santa,” it didn’t make much sense.

In these cases echolalia is representative of the way these children process information. They learn in “chunks” without processing meanings of individual words. This learning style is called a “gestalt” style of language acquisition. Children who learn this way also process the sensory and emotional components of the event. In the previous example with Santa, the little boy processed “It’s” as a part of Santa’s name, along with the enthusiasm in his mother’s voice. Every time he said this, he repeated it in just the way she originally said it to him, beginning shortly after Thanksgiving and lasting well into January.

Sometimes echolalia does not serve an identifiable purpose. For example, consider the child who repeats every line from the book “Go Dog Go” for no apparent reason while in the grocery store. There’s no dog in sight and no link to associating this book, but she recites it while riding in the cart while her mother selects food.

I try to teach parents with children who seem to be stuck in echolalia to look at this as an opportunity for us to know exactly what he or she is having difficulty learning. Echolalia can serve a purpose for us. For example, the child who is walking around aimlessly quoting a movie or book may need help in finding an appropriate activity, or he may be feeling stressed or anxious and use this routine to calm himself. A child who asks her mother, “Do you want a cookie?” needs help in learning to initiate requests in a more appropriate way. A child who repeats a question needs help learning the meaning of the words so he can accurately process the question, or he may need specific cues to learn exactly how to answer. A child who repeats, “Good job (her own name)” needs to learn a declarative phrase such as, “I did it!” A child who repeats his brother’s words may just be trying to take a turn in conversation and doesn’t know what else to say.

By taking a moment to determine if the echolalic utterance serves a purpose, discovering what the child’s intent is, and then finding ways to teach your child what he should say in this context, you’ll be much more effective than trying to eliminate echolalia.

Look for a follow-up article this week for more specific ideas to work on functional language for children with echolalia at home and during speech therapy sessions. Laura


If you’d like more information about echolalia, you can find it in my course Is It Autism? Recognizing and Treating Toddlers and Preschoolers with Red Flags for ASD.



  1. anon on June 18, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    My son is about to turn 3 and i think he may have echolalia but does not have autism and this is confirmed by our pediatrician. The issue I see is that if a friend or relative asks him how are you he doesn’t say fine, he will say something which is associated with that person eg. A friend showed him the moon so he responds where is the moon. Do you think this is an issue. My son has yet to go to a speech pathologist but I want to take him to one. Any suggestions to a stressed out mother welcome.

    • maria on July 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      My son is currently 7 years old. I took him to his pediatrician since he was 4 years old and she did not see Autism. She said that it was just the stage that he was in. It was going to go away. I have been struggling with him for 3+ years until now that I have a exact answer of what he has. He was referred to a Neurologist and she did not see Autism but ADHD. After school reports of him behaving bad and not paying attention, I took him to a Psychologist, and she referred him to a evaluator in the same building and after 3 visits of evaluation, finally he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the moderate section. I would say, if you think something is wrong with your son/daughter keep on fighting for him. Don’t give up. Don’t let someone tell you that you are wrong.
      Be strong and good luck with your son. I know how frustrating it can be.

    • Katelin on August 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Hi! I’m a SLP and I don’t believe that your pediatrician can determine whether your child has autism or not. I think that is typically a developmental psychologist. I would take them to a specialist in order to determine what is going on. You should also get them evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to determine if therapy is needed. Good luck!

  2. Laura on June 19, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Anon – Please read my articles in the receptive language section about answering questions. Here are the links for the ones I’d try first.

    Techniques to Work on Answering Questions

    link 1.

    and Improving Receptive Language Skills

    link 2.

    Hope this info helps! Laura

    • aruna on September 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      My son is Aditya 4year 3months old he repeats what we ask him later on he replies.
      From last year he going to school now he is in nursery. He reads writes alphabets a – z, numbers 1-100. he answers and identifies animals, colours, vegetables, fruits, vehicles, birds minimum 8-10.
      But he can’t reply what you had in breakfast or lunch, what you did in school, what all your miss taught, to all these types.
      He likes playing with same age children but he understands some words and repeats the same, doesn’t replies.
      We are staying in a Town here no speech therapy classes.
      Plz suggest me what to do.

      • Tanya on February 4, 2017 at 4:53 am

        Hi Aruna, I am Indian too. My sin is 2 year old and showing these symptoms. Similar. I thought we dont have too many people to speak to him. Thats why he does that. I am too scared to get him avaluated. I pray everything will be fine. Good luck.

  3. anon on June 19, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you. I will try this.

  4. Jo on June 29, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Can a child have echolalia without autism? Can he grow out of it and learn to make spontaneous speech? What kind of therapy is needed? The boy is 7.

  5. Laura on June 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Echolalia can be associated with other kinds of speech-language issues. It is a part of normal language development, but at a much younger age than 7. I would highly advise you to have him evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. This can be done thru a speech-language pathologist in private practice, thru a children’s hospital, thru a university speech and hearing clinic, and if you live in the USA, thru your local public school system, even if your child does not currently attend public school. Please discuss this with your child’s doctor. In my opinion, this could be a very serious issue at 7, but I have not seen your child, so I cannot give you more specific advice other than to have him evaluated by a competent professional. Laura

  6. Jo on June 30, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Thanks, Laura. I live in Malaysia and it’s hard to find a doctor who truly understands developmental disorders. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    I think this boy may be on the autism spectrum (he has other symptoms). If echolalia is a good sign that the child is developing speech, does this mean that he will someday be able to communicate with his own words?

  7. Laura on June 30, 2008 at 6:02 am

    I never give up on a child learning to communicate, so 7 is not going to be TOO old, but my primary clinical experience in language development is birth to 3 and then early preschool years. Keep looking for a professional there to help you since she/he will be able to see your child and make recommendations that are specific to him. Are you in/near a city so that you have access to a children’s hospital? ASK ANYONE who might have any prior experience if they know how to locate a speech-language pathologist – teachers, physicians, social workers, dentists, or any mother who looks like one of her children has special needs.

    I once treated a little boy whose parents who were Christian missionaries in Malaysia while they were home in the US on furlough. Their son had Down Syndrome, and he was able get speech therapy from a person in private practice, so keep looking for one, even if she’s hard to find.

    If anyone else has ideas for how Jo can find a therapist in Malaysia, please respond. Laura

  8. Ashi on July 6, 2008 at 12:52 am

    hi laura,

    wants to know more about phonological disorder as my son has problems in saying some words like with sounds of “L” i.e will say chocate rather than choclate , and with sound of “R” and N”, Moon will be “moo”.

  9. Laura on July 6, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Ashi – Here’s an article explaining phonological disorders. Hope this helps!

    But let me encourage you to spend most of your time focused on LANGUAGE with him. Any child with both receptive and expressive language issues PLUS autism PLUS the whole bilingual issue has a lot on his plate so that articulation would be the least of my concerns for him if I were you. My advice would be to focus on what he communicates by improving language FIRST, then worry about speech sounds later. Again – I hope you have a great SLP you’re working with so she/he can help you sort all of this out and prioritize your goals for him! Laura

  10. Anonymous on July 6, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Dear Laura

    My 32 months old son had some kind of speech delay. At 18 months he was saying 10 words, at 24 months he was still at 10 words. We enrolled him in speech therapy once/week. At 28 months Andrew was still behind with his language but at 32 months he tested appropriate for his age on receptive language and above his age on expressive language. We use 2 different languages at home and his preference was English so he was tested in English.However since his grandma moved in with us and now is more involved in his life he likes to speak French as well and speaks it sometimes better than English. Most of his language came in just 3-4 months ago and while we are ecstatic to hear him talking we are also concerned about the huge ammount of echolalia he is using on his speech. We already booked an appointment with a developmental pediatrician to get an assessment but the assessment will be in 4 months from now. Is there any chance that he might be echolalic without being autistic? From your article echolalia peeks arround 30 months of age (which will be his corrected age because he was born earlier)….Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,
    Niki & Andrew M.

  11. Laura on July 7, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Anonymous MOM and DAD – He could be echolalic without being autistic, especially considering his language delay. However, if you have any suspicions about autism, please follow your gut instincts and have him evaluated by the developmental ped. I am wondering if your SLP ever mentioned this possibility to you? Let me also caution that sometimes children are technically “talking” but not really using their words to communicate. Is he initiating conversation and asking for things he needs? Is he asking & answering questions? Does he exhibit any of the other signs/symptoms of autism other than echolalia? These are questions that will also let you know if you should follow thru with the dev ped appointment. Hope this helps! Laura

    • barney on August 24, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      I read the response to the parents question and the answer focuses more on autism. The question was is it possible that a child has echolalia and NOT autism? I think there is a lot of resources on the net to inform a parent if their child is autistic. We want to know is it possible that the child is NOT autistic and repeats. If this can be elaborated, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

  12. SLP on November 20, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Can a child have BOTH immediate and delayed echolalia? I work with a student who presents with both forms and little spontaneous language.

    Is there a term if both are present? Are there any treatment techniques?

  13. Laura on November 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I have seen children with delayed and immediate echolalia. When I document this, I note both. Glad you’re enjoying the site! I also wanted to let you know about an upcoming segment of my podcast, Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Kate. During December we’ll be discussing echolalia and treatment techniques. Hope you can join us! Laura

  14. jenn on May 19, 2009 at 1:18 am

    my son is 5.5 years old and he repeats (in a whisper) things that HE has said not others, is this considered echolalia? He has been doing it for a really long time-

  15. Laura on May 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Jenn – That’s a good question, but before I weigh in, I’d like to ask you a few questions about him. Does he use spontaneous language? How often does he do this? Does this interfere with his ability to communicate with others? Is he really repetitive with this? Does he get speech therapy, and what does his SLP think? Laura

  16. Michael W. Casby on September 29, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Excellent resources for parents, professionals, and students. The content and processes presented are very contemporary and appropriate for work with young children. Very nice work here; very enjoyable and educational.

  17. Anonymous on October 4, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Laura, my son is 28 mos. old and is into speech therapy for the past five months due to receptive and expressive language delay. I’ve also been using the techniques from your dvd teach me to listen and obey and teach me to talk. His receptive language has dramatically improved and he can follow numerous commands, but his expressive language is still delayed. Recently, he’s starting to imitate words when I ask him to, like if he wants to eat he says “eat” then I ask him to say “cracker” and he will say “cacker”. If I say where’s the tree or car or flower etc. he will point to them and say the words sometimes not so clearly. This was a big improvement from him. My concern is how will I know if it is echolalia? I’ve been waiting for him to finally imitate my words, but now I’m scared what if all this is considered echolalia. His SLP says he has good joint attention, great attention span, his eye contact is not that good, but improving.

    Another thing we’re worried about is that we noticed he is doing a lot of toe walking lately.

    Hoping to get feedback from you. Thanks!


  18. Hazel on October 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My son is 28 mos. old was diagnosed with receptive and expressive language delay when he was 22 mos. old. He is currently into speech therapy.
    I’ve also been working with him at home using the techniques I got from your Teach Me To Listen and Obey and Teach Me To Talk DVD’s. His
    receptive language has tremendously improved, and he can now understand most of our commands. His expressive language is still delayed though.
    Recently, he started to imitate words that I speak. Example if he wants a cracker he will use sign language at the same time he will say the word “EAT”,
    I will then ask him to say the word “cracker” , which he will follow with “cacker”. If I ask him to point to his eyes, nose mouth, he would say the word
    “eyes”, “N” for nose, “mott” for mouth, etc. If I ask where’s papa?, where’s the tree, flower, car?, etc. He would point and say the words although
    some not perfectly clear like tree is “tee”, car is “cah”. This was a huge development for him. Now that he’s starting to imitate words, I am concerned
    what if all these is echolalia? How will I know?

    Another thing that bothers me is we noticed he is walking on his toes more often now than before. Other than these he seems ok. He has good joint
    attention, great attention span according to his SLP. His eye contact is not so good, but he is improving. His motor skills both gross and fine are ok.
    He also has very good visual-spatial skills.

    Hoping to get your feedback on these.


  19. Hazel on October 8, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Hi Laura,

    I’m hoping to get feedback from you. I think I posted twice ‘coz I thought the first one didn’t go through.


  20. Laura on October 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Hazel – I thought I’d already responded to you, but I don’t see that post either!!

    Don’t worry about echolalia at this point. Usually that’s more with kids who quote entire sections of movies, songs, etc… without understanding the words or using very many single words. What you’re describing sounds like normal imitation – the kind you WANT to see in expressive language development with new talkers. The truth is, even echolalia is a good prognostic indicator that a child will eventually talk on his own, vs. not saying anything, even in imitation.

    From what you’ve said, it sounds like he’s making good progress in a short amount of time! Keep using the strategies you’re learning from the DVDs and from your SLP. If she’s not worried about his attention and participation, then you shouldn’t be overly concerned either. It sounds like he’s on the right track, and based on what you’ve said, so are you!! Hang in there!! Kids don’t go from a huge delay to “typical” overnight, so keep celebrating his successes, as I know you are! Thanks for your questions!! Laura

  21. tracy on October 9, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Hi Laura, you mention that it is not correct for an SLP to model two word utterances like” big ball” or “blue truck” when attempting to increase utterance length, could you explain why? thank you.

  22. Laura on October 9, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Tracy – If I knew what context you’d heard me say this in, I’d be happy to explain what I meant, but I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about. Did you hear me say that on a podcast, or was it in something you read here on the site? Give me more information, and I’ll be more than happy to explain my train of thought. Laura

  23. mital on November 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm


    My son is 4 1/2 years old. Few months ago, we came to US. Previously we were in India. We got the diagnosis of language delay when my son was 2 years old – From that day
    onwards my family and I were working hard to teach him
    our native language and by age 4 he was able to talk complete sentences and able to understand and answer
    wh questions (why and when rarely)but he had delayed echolalia and limited eye contact and less interested in peer play.
    In US, he been recently dignosed as having mild ASD. We put him in a disabled preschool here last month and he has started learning english – he can now understand basic sentences in english but answers in our native language.

    The thing I always worry about him is this delayed echolalia. He has this, if he is so excited or engaged in some activity like drawing etc,. He is having a high pitched voice and I took him to the park last week he was sitting on the slide and telling to himself “come dog, come on will you bite me?” in our native language even though there was no dog out there and every one in the park looked
    differently at him. Will this be for him for the lifetime or will he outgrow or In what ways I can help him out?

  24. Matt on November 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    My son has always been a little behind on speech, lots of grunting for a while, then a few words came, now at 3 everything is words, however some of it is echolalia. He repeats a lot of phrases, but all are in an appropriate manner or situation (“Stay in the driveway”, or “Stay by the car”) He also has immidiate echolalia where he repeats questions or statements we make. At the same time he can tell us what he wants, initiates many observations on his own and answers most yes/no questions and a few other questions where a choice needs to be made. We are in the process of a speech evaluation and of course the potential of Autism has been thrown on the table by a few observers. Echolalia is the ONLY trait that he demonstraits on the spectrum. Otherwise, he follows and understands directions, overall is well behaved, makes eye contact, doesn’t have any sensory issues, while a little shy still he still likes to play with kids he is familiar with and doesn’t have any odd hand motions or is obsessed with spinning or other type of visual stimulus. We do not think its Autism. Can Echolalia exist outside of autism? (and be corrected)

  25. Laura on November 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Mital – First of all congratulations in doing the right thing in getting your son’s language delay diagnosed at such an earlier age and then working with him so that he’s now using full sentences. As I’m sure you know, echolalia in autism, even mild autism, is difficult to treat. It’s also equally difficult to look at a child at 4 and predict what he’ll look like at 6, or 10, or 18. The experts tell us that echolalia is likely to be replaced by novel language as children progress. However, some people with autism use echolalia as a way to help themselves regulate even into adulthood. What you can do is keep him in treatment as long as he needs it followed by lots of “work” at home to make sure you’re doing your part in helping him to learn more complex language. Also ask your SLP at school what else you can do to help him at home. Thanks for your question. Laura

  26. Laura on November 23, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Matt – He will not be diagnosed with autism if he does not meet the criteria, and echolalia alone will not make him eligible for this diagnosis. However, let me gently add that sometimes parents come to me with what they think is “only one” characteristic of autism when in fact, there are other subtle markers that a parent, in our devoted affection for our children, have chalked up to “his personality” or a “quirk.” This may not the case at all with your child, so please don’t get offended, but it does happen consistently in my practice, so I’d like to provide a word of caution for parents who may be reading this and in that situation.

    As children learn more language, echolalia should decrease as novel words, phrases, and sentences replace the repeated ones. Some children are more repetitive than others when learning language, especially when there have been delays, as in your son’s case. What I’d encourage you to do is to keep targeting that language at home and get him in speech therapy to give him and you new treatment ideas.

    Thanks for your question and good luck with him! Laura

  27. Matt on November 24, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Laura – Thanks for responding so quickly! I understand your point regrading a parents point of view. In our case I feel we are being honest with ourselves. We went into this screening thinking we had a boy that needed speech therapy to catch up. At the inital screening when they threw out Autism we were totally shocked (hadn’t ever crossed our minds). Also, his pediatrician since birth does not think that is the case either.

    We are seeking speech therapy, that was the reason for us going through this screeing process to see if he qualifies. They gave us the C.A.R.S test which we took ourselves and with them. Either way, based on that test’s parameters he is not even “mildy Autistic”, the only areas he scored 2-2.5s in were the speech and communication areas. With a total score of 32 being “mildly Autistic” he was nowwhere near that…more in the low to mid 20’s (15 being the lowest score possible)

    What are your views on the “over diagnosis” of Autism these days? Agree? Disgree?

  28. Laura on December 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Matt – Glad you’re getting the eval done so you can see what is going on with him. With such a low score on the CARS, it’s unlikely that autism is the culprit!

    In my area I do not believe that autism is overdiagnosed at all in toddlers and young preschoolers. However, it may be overdiagnosed in school-age children here based on reports I get from moms with children I treated as toddlers who in my mind were not on the spectrum when they were 1 and 2. My feeling is that if parents want a diagnosis so that their insurance will pay for speech therapy, they can almost always talk someone into saying he/she is autistic. Is it the right thing to do? NO, but if it means a kid gets services when he otherwise wouldn’t, then I’m not going to fault them for trying.

    Thanks for your questions!

  29. Nicole on December 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    My son is 3 1/2 and his occupational therapist say he has Sensory Integration Disorder.Another occupational therapist recently told me he echo’s. They said he does it because his sensory system gets over loaded. I had no idea what she was talking about so I looked it up online, which is how I came across this site. My question is how do I help my son? He cannot relay any information to me or answer any of my questions, he just repeats what I said back to me. He has trouble communicating, making friends and get his needs met if I’m not around to intervene.

  30. Laura on December 22, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Nicole – Treating echolalia can be really difficult. I hope that he’s getting speech therapy too. If not, I’d highly recommend that you have his language skills evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. Although it sounds like he’s “talking,” he’s not really “communicating” with you. Follow the ideas listed here in the article on echolalia and take a look at the other articles here in the expressive language section. You may also find the articles in the autism section helpful as well. Echolalia is often present in children who are on the spectrum. Of course I can’t see your son, so I can’t make that assumption, but you may want to discuss this with your OT to see if further evaluation is warranted so that you can get your son all of the help he needs to learn to make friends and communicate with others, ESPECIALLY when you’re not around. Let me know if you need other help, and thanks for your questions. Laura

  31. moonz on March 4, 2010 at 3:24 am

    dear Laura,

    I had already written to you about my daughter, who is now 4 yrs old she has speech difficulty. Upon the advice of a pedeatrition we enrolled her to a normal school,since we dont have any therapist where we live. since her going to school she has improved in her speech ,from monosyllable to bisyllable and two words sentence or some times three.but the problem we have encountered is that she is unable to write till now.her writing ability are writing an ‘o’and ‘H’that too not perfectly.I have tried to teach her slanting line and bumps that are necessary for alphabet writing,but all in vain,because she prefers to write only the circle and capital ‘H’.
    Now her lower kinder garden will be comming to an end and the teachers will not promote her.I have been patiently practicing with her different strokes,but all in vain as she dosen’t write different strokes.can u give me advise on this.


  32. Laura on March 5, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Moonz – Many children aren’t ready for handwriting at 4 because they don’t have the foundational or prerequisite fine motor skills. Can she manipulate lots of different small toys during play? Does she place small-knobbed puzzle pieces into the appropriate spots in a puzzle? Can she snip paper with scissors? Can she use lots of different “tools” with Playdoh – cut it with a plastic knife, use a smaller roller, etc…? Can she use a set of plastic tweezers to pick up small objects? Does she use a mature grasp on the pencil with her fingers and thumb rather than a fist?

    Have her teachers give you other ideas about how to work with her at home with handwriting. There’s also a workbook set you can order called “Handwriting Without Tears” that may be helpful to you. Google it for more info.

    Since you don’t have a speech pathologist, you likely don’t have an occupational therapist either, huh? That’s the professional who would help with handwriting. Ask your physician about this referral as well.

    Hope these ideas help! Laura

  33. moonz on March 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Dear Laura

    Thank u for the comment.I have given her a puzzle set of 6-8 pieces,and after showing her how to fit she could do with out help.she is now perfect in that.Now she fits with memory,where each puzzle goes.

    Rest she plays with tea ,cooking sets,csn use a knife to cut,roll dough,build blocks in different shapes.

    Only recently, 2 months ago she has learned to ride a tricycle.
    It seems to me she has learned out of frustration,as there were three more kids and one tricycle,this happened during our vacation in our home land.
    Her grasp of the pencil is with fingers and thumb but she does it with less confidence.

    At school, the teachers held her hand for her to write the letters.She wants the same at home,it has become a habbit for her,I wish for her to write on her own now as her motor skills are developing.

    I have observed that she writes when I give her in dotted form of letters,but after practicing with her for 2-3 days she can’t write I think I have to be patient till her motor skills develop.


  34. Laura on March 12, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Moonz – It sounds like you’re on the right track with the kinds of activities you’re doing with her. I would give her the hand-over-hand assistance to get her started, but quickly fade your help so that she can do it on her own. Again check out the handwriting programs I mentioned. Good luck! Laura

  35. Jezzy on March 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’m so glad I found your site! My daughter is 33 months old. For awhile, we thought she might be “advanced” because she knows all of her letters, can count to 30 (sometimes 40), and loves to memorize books. It wasn’t until recently that we realized that all that memorization could be a “red flag”. She also memorizes entire episodes of “The Wonder Pets” and we hear her reciting them alone in her room. She can answer questions, but it’s hit-and-miss, and often followed by a non-sequitur. For example, this morning I was getting her some blueberries. She saw what I was doing and said “No! Grapes!”. I said, “OK, grapes”, to which she replied, “Look, Wonder Pets, there’s the baby kangaroo”. Uh…OK. My husband and I agreed to make an appointment with her pediatrician, but what can we do in the meantime in addition to modeling our own words? Do we have to cut out “The Wonder Pets” altogether?

    • Crystal on June 19, 2015 at 9:59 am

      I’m not sure if you will get a notification but I was just curious about your daughter – my son is 30mo old and he does the same things that you mentioned your daughter doing around 33mo – seems very advanced because he knows colors, shapes, can count to 20 and also count by 10’s to 100, recognizes shapes in everyday items, can quote large excerpts from TV shows (bubble guppies). I was wondering what has happened with your daughter now that she is older – was she diagnosed with anything? My son makes good eye contact, he does toe walk sometimes and hand flaps when he’s excited. He doesn’t have conversational speech yet but can verbalize when he wants to go outside or wants milk etc. If you do get this message you can private email me if you want to at Thanks so much

  36. Laura on March 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Jezzy – Thanks for your question. If you cut out Wonder Pets, do you think she’d move on to memorizing and reciting another favorite show? That’s what usually happens. I’d probably limit her TV watching right now and do everything you can to keep her engaged and interacting with you for the majority of the day. The more she “practices” her social (real) language with you, the more the echolalia should decrease. I’d really try to keep her engaged with you with choices to follow-up with your question. For example, with the grapes you could have asked, “In the red bowl or blue bowl?” “Want juice or milk?”,”Eat them here or in the dining room?” With kids who are echolalic I try to avoid asking the questions with “Do you want ____” since they often imitate that whole question as their way of requesting, so try to model your question in a way that won’t sound odd if she imitates what you’ve said.

    I think a speech-language evaluation with someone who specializes in treating preschoolers with autism is a good idea. A specialized preschool for her for the fall is also something else I’d recommend. Many local public school systems offer preschool for children with social communication/language delays. I hope your pediatrician agrees and can point you in the right direction. Your daughter has lots of strengths, so you’ll want to have her in therapy to give her the jump start she needs and hopefully maximize her skills so that she’s as ready as she can be for kindergarten. Thanks again for your questions. Laura

  37. Sol on April 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Hi Laura,
    My son just turned 4 and he has both immediate and delayed echolalia. However, he can verbalize what he is doing and can speak in a few words(usually 1 or 2 sometimes more)to meet his needs. He has excellent rote memory. I have access to some books in helping children to talk. One book is meant for typical chiildren that are delayed and the other is for autistic children. He has not yet been diagnozed of ASD. Will it hurt than help to use strategies that are mentioned in the autistic book before a diagnosis. Thanks.

  38. Laura on April 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Sol – Nothing you can do to help him learn to learn will ever hurt him. Implement any idea that makes sense to you while you’re waiting on his formal evaluation.

    Echolalia, while worrisome in that a child is not learning language in a typical way, is still a great indicator that a child can and will learn to talk, and eventually on his own.

    Congratulations for searching for ideas to help him. You’re doing a good job 🙂 Laura

  39. Sol on April 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks Laura for your quick and valued response. I would like to provide a little more detailed information about by 4 year old boy.

    The following autistic symptoms he has.
    – He does not have one to one conversation; can say yes or no appropriately and able to verbalize what he is doing and what the others are doing, but does not ask questions other than ‘what is this’ or ‘show me this’ while pointing at a book. However, overall he is very verbal with appropriate comments about his environment; he rarely makes a comment that does not make sense.
    – He has both immediate and delayed echolalia but I would say moderately. This is more when he is around known people and less in the presence of strangers
    – When his name is called while being close to him he does not respond most of the time, but always responds when I call his name from the next room; this puzzles me.
    – When I vacuum the carpet sometimes the sound irritates him and he cries; at other times he would enjoy and want to see what I am doing, and he would even take his toy vacuum and pretend to clean. He also does not like the sound that cows make ‘moo’.

    The following autistic symptoms he does not have
    – He has language enough to meet all his needs/ requests even though sometimes they are one or two words. There are times when he uses more words
    – He has good pretend play; pretend to make and drink tea and give others, pretend to drive a car or ride horse. Also he imitates the movement of animals like kangaroo, wombat. He imitates tv characters; would this be considered pretense or repetition. Is it positive or negative?
    – He points to things especially in books and identifies what they are; He knew all the alphabets and numbers upto twenty before his 3rd birthday both visually and phonetically. He has excellent memory; will be able to identify and remember things, animals etc.. from books even if he sees it just once.
    – He would bring books and toys to you frequently and ask to read or play with him
    – He makes good eye contact. When he plays with a toy he would make eye contact with you between play and sometimes look at you and make a comment with respect to his play
    – Likes to be held and cuddled
    – Has no problem in change of schedules or wearing any texture of clothing
    – When the parents come after work he would always rush to greet you and say ‘Hi mama/papa’
    – No stereotyped behaviors; does not have abnormal movements of hands or body; does not lineup anything
    – No temper tantrums
    – A contented child

    In addition his walking happened quite late at 19 months. Is there a connection between echolalia and good memory?
    I will be very grateful if you could please dissect the above for me. He has not received any diaganosis as yet. I know that if you do not meet the whole criteria it could be diagnozed as PDD(NOS). How much worried should I be and if and how my is he different from a typical child that has developmental/ language delays.

    Thanks very much again and I am very glad I was able to find your website and appreciate profusely the service you provide.

  40. Sol on April 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My apologies for the lengthy note sent previously on April 9,2010. Based on what I have mentioned in that note, would you please let me know which of your resources(DVDs, books)would be most suitable to help my son who is 4yrs. 2mths.


  41. Laura on April 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Sol – I just re-read your comment. Sorry I missed it before. Thanks for sharing your details about your little boy. Even though your son’s language is delayed, he has some nice strengths to build on. I hope that you’ll have him formally evaluated so that an SLP can SEE him and how he responds and uses language so that he/she can diagnosis him and more importantly, teach you how you can work with him to help him at home.

    My DVDs are for adults to watch to teach you how to work with your child at home. If he’s never been in speech therapy before and you’ve not already had professional recommendations with how to work with him, I’d recommend Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 (if he’s not understanding a variety of words) and then the last couple of strategies from Teach Me To Talk for ways to work with him to target more advanced expressive language. Watch the clips and decide for yourself if these will be appropriate for you to help him.

    Thanks for your questions! Laura

  42. J/A's mommy on June 9, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Hi…I have a 32 mo. old son. I recently started to worry w/ the fact that he doesn’t answer yes/no questions. When asked a question he will repeat the last word/s.
    Mom- do you want something to eat?
    J- eat
    Mom- what would you like?
    J- like
    Mom- do you want a sandwich or some soup?
    J- sandwich or soup
    I can’t get him to answer. He is able to say many words (over 200) but usually does not string more than 2 or 3 together. He also recites partial quotes from some of his favorite cartoons. he will do so spontaniously or while watching them…mostly finishing sentences for cartoon characters,so on. He is a very hyper and active boy. I was initally worried his speech delay was related to autism. looking over the list on this site he does show 3 or 4 signs (quoting, repeating vs. answering, hyperactive, occasionally flaps his hands if he is really excited about something- that has decreased.) He is very sociable w/ kids and adults, is very affectionate, he seems to be on target as far as everything else is concerned. He is able to follow direction, likes to engage us in his play, he is able to make needs known with simple 1-2 words. His preschool teachers say he is smart, loves flashcards and loves story time. They do agree he is a little delayed in speech but they believe he understands what is being said to him. He enjoys new things,places, people, foods,etc. Should i seek a referral to speech therapist or possible evaluation for autism? Thanks!

  43. Katie on June 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Hi! I’m very glad I found this site. My son is 33 months old. HE was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (by a developmental pediatrician) in November 2009. Therapists who specialize in autism started coming to our house and with therapy I have seen improvement. The problem is, Some therapists don’t think he has autism and they don’t mind coming out and saying it. That makes it hard for me because I don’t know who to believe. I noticed signs of possible autism very early on. My son never explored my face when I would feed him his bottle as an infant. He NEVER answered to his name and when he started therapy they documented that he answered his name ONLY 10% of the time and now 5 months later it’s 60% of the time. His eye contact is inconsistent and he seems to have (all therapists agree) echolalia and delayed echolalia. If you ask him, “shane”, what’s your name? He will say “what’s name?” If you ask how old are you he’ll say “old are you.” HE can memorize and sing long country songs and will recite phrases from movies or tv randomly throughout the day. His expressive and receptive language are both at about 1 year and 9 months old (he’s almost 3). He does flap on occasion but it has gotten better now that we have been using PECS Pictures. He used to only play with anything with wheels or his roller coaster beads. Now with therapy he will play with other things but prefers to play alone. He has always lined things up (blocks, cars, stuffed animals). He loves to rock and he likes deep pressure on his head, hands and legs. He is about to start school and ‘m afraid some of the opinions of him not having autism of some of the staff will effect him or his right to therapies. They already refused to give him Occupational Therapy even though his adaptive skills are at 9 months to a year old with eating, feeding himself and dressing. What can I do and In your personal opinion do you think that the developmental pediatrician was correct about him having Autism spectrum disorder? THANK YOU!!

  44. Laura on June 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Katie – I’d go with the autism dx because it usually does ensure that he’ll get more therapy time than any other dx. Ask your therapists to remove any mention of this in their notes so that they don’t jeopardize his chances of more services when he turns 3. Explain that you are THRILLED with his progress and understand from all of your research that he still continues to exhibit red flag characteristics of ASD and that you’d rather continue to assume that he does meet this criteria so you can ensure he gets proper tx. No therapist in their right mind will disagree with that!

    I like this question so much that Kate and I are going to discuss it on our show this Thursday. You can tune in for our answers, or better yet, call in yourself! We love to hear from moms!!! Laura

  45. Laura on June 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    JA’s mommy – Even though his vocabulary is increasing and he is using phrases, it does sound like he has some difficulty understanding and processing language since children with typically developing language can answer the kinds of questions you’re describing by 2 1/2 or 30 months. You can get him assessed by your local early intervention program, but chances are, he won’t qualify since he won’t meet eligibility requirements since he’s not significantly delayed. However, you can and should continue to work with him at home to help him learn to understand and answer questions. There are tips in articles here on the website in the receptive language category. Search the word “Answering Questions” and it should link you to a couple of articles. I will be addressing this in a couple of weeks on the podcast since I routinely get questions about questions!!! Tune in for those answers! Laura

  46. Deji on August 4, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Hi Laura, am currently working with echolalia child of about 7 years, here in Nigeria. but the parent major concern is the academic aspect, thou she is trying her best, let say she is below average. she is also good with art and computer games. so what are you suggesting i should do. i seriouly need your suggestion. thanks inanticipation.

  47. Deji on August 4, 2010 at 4:42 am

    pls, can you give me some tips to teach echolalic child. thanks.

  48. Angie on September 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My son is 3.5 yrs old and uses echololia 50% and spontaneous speech the other 50%. He does express his needs such as “Mommy can I have milk?” or “Mommy Can I go outside” and answers questions like “What letter does the word Apple start with?” He will respond “the letter A” but cannot give me an answer if I ask him a question like “How was your day?” He is very engaged and affectionate with his family and has always made good eye contact so I don’t think it is autism but I’m not sure. He has been going to Speech therapy once a week for approx 3-4 months but I’m not seeing much of a diff. Can you offer me any advise and your thoughts on my sons language issues.

  49. Will's Mom on October 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I have a son that shows a lot of Autism traits including Echolalia.
    In addition to that he has:
    1. limited eye contact
    2. lack of pretend play
    3. Speech Delay – probably speech of a 1.5 year old (he’s 3)
    4. some gross motor delay (can’t jump)
    5. limited interest in his peers.
    Interestingly though he loves adults, initiates play with us, can ask for what he wants such I want a cookie please, adjusts to routine and transition easily, and loves affection.
    We believe him to have autism, and are currently getting him evaluated. Looking for the best thing to help him also in your experience do is Echolalia often covered as a reason for speech by insurance?

  50. Laura on October 31, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Will’s Mom – I am going to answer your question on today’s podcast at 6 pm eastern time. Listen in show #90 above!
    Thanks! Laura

  51. Laura on November 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

    There were some difficulties with the podcast #90 yesterday, so the show was not posted. I’ll be answering those same questions again next week. Tune in Sunday, 11/7 at 6 pm eastern time! Laura

  52. Alisha on November 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you Laura!

  53. Nyah's mom on December 18, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Hi Laura,
    I really hope you answer my question. My daughter is 27 m/o and she shows signs of both immediate and delayed echolalia. For example:
    Mom: Are you tired?
    Mom: What’s your name?
    She does however answer when I give her a choice of what to eat and when she’s asked academic question. She also does well when she’s asked what is a character in a book or on tv doing. She follows directions well and she knows what stuff in the house are for.
    She was counting to ten by the time she was 14 m/o and she knew all her colors way before she turned 2 y/o. Now at 27 m/o she knows all the letters in the alphabet, she even knows the accompanying phonetic sounds! Besides the echolalia, I’m concerned that she has a fascination with shapes and numbers. She can turn something like a rubber-band into any kind of shape and be right about it every single time. Sometimes, she’s even better at recognizing a shape than I am. It’s like she thinks in shape. For example, one day I held her palm open and I asked her what is it and her answer was a rectangle! Though I know she knew her body parts before she turned 2, I was still taken aback by her answer. She even recognizes octagons and pentagons. Because of that, her teachers and even the pedi think she should be tested for giftedness. While me, in my heart I feel like she is somewhere on the spectrum. I have a 14 y/o brother who is very low-functioning and non-verbal. My dad is also on the spectrum, but he has asperger and is very, very smart. We also speak 3 languages in the house. Do you think I should be concerned that she might be on the spectrum? Also what can I do to curb/reduce her echolalia
    Kindest regards,
    Nyah’s mom

  54. Laura on December 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Nyah’s mom – With your family history, and the list of her strengths as well as her weakness, including the echolalia, I’d be concerned about her as well. Being on the spectrum does not mean that she’s not smart since many people of the spectrum, as you noted with your father, have academic strengths. However, it DOES mean that you’re going to have to work to help her learn to consistently understand and process SOCIAL language – not just rote concepts. An SLP who works with children on the spectrum will be able to help you do this. I’d probably have her assessed soon just so that you can best know how to address her language processing to reduce the echolalia.

    Try the completion method to help her learn to understand questions and reduce the echolalia. To help her answer, “What’s your name?” help her learn the sentences, “My name is Nyah.” After practicing then give her the starter phrase, “My name is ….. (pause to wait for her to fill it in) Nyah.” This helps her response become more automatic, and learning this way appears to be a strength for her, so use it!

    The interest in shapes/colors/letters/patterns tells you that she’s a visual learner. This also means that you can use this to help her learn other things that will be more difficult for her.

    There’s another article here on the website about working with children with echolalia, so take a look at that for more ideas. Thanks again for your question. Let us know how she progresses. Laura

  55. Laura on December 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Hi readers! Comments from the last 10 days have disappeared from the website, and no one seems to know why. If you’ve submitted a question and don’t see it here, please enter it again so that I can respond to you. There doesn’t seem to be a way to retrieve them once they’re gone. Sorry! Laura

  56. Nyah's mom on December 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I want to thank you for your prompt answer. I will be calling the EI program in my state tomorrow to schedule an appointment for her. I will definitely keep you updated on her progress. Happy Holidays!
    Nyah’s mom

  57. Amanda on January 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Hi, my son just turned 4 in November. When he was about 18 months he had some echolalia but his spontaneous speech outweighed the echolalia. The echolalia decreased significantly around 2 when he was putting together sentences. At about 2.5 he started repeating the ends of words like cars-ars-ars or truck-k-k. This went on for a couple of months after which his articulation improved immensely. Then around 3 he started again but started to repeat his last word or sentence in a softer voice. Once again it subsided but came back at about 3.5. So it appears to come and go about every 6 months. He has lots of spontaneous speech, does well in preschool, developmentally on track…so I just don’t get it?? I would say it is < 15% of his speech. Is this a form of stuttering, echolalia, palilalia? I have a hearing screening set up, and will be setting an appt with the SLP in a month. Is it possible he is just trying to say it better?

  58. Laura on January 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Amanda – Thanks for your question. I’m so glad you’re seeing an SLP for him. The way you’re describing how he repeats words is really an atypical pattern, so it is much better if someone can meet with you and see him in person to help you sort all of this out. When children are dysfluent, they usually repeat the beginnings of words, not the endings. When children are echolalic they tend to repeat the last word/s the hear or have heard others say and not their own utterances. So what you’re reporting does sound more like palilalia which as I’m sure you know, is the repetition of your own spoken words.

    The only child I’ve ever personally treated that exhibited the same kinds of repetitions you’re describing was later diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and also exhibited a host of other developmental issues, so this doesn’t seem to be an issue for your little boy since he’s meeting his milestones. Palilalia is also seen in children who are on the autism spectrum or who have neurological disorders.

    However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that any of these is what’s going on with your little guy, so again, I’m glad you’re going to see someone about this while he’s still pretty young.

    Good luck to you both! Laura

  59. sinead on January 28, 2011 at 2:37 am

    hi laura its sinead from northern ireland ,, i wrote to you a few weeks back concerning my 26th mth son, he has a lot of jargon but its becomming more understandable and his vol is dif increasing,, i just hope in a few mths hes talking well, i had him at the speech therapist but she has ref him to a pead ,, i have no other concerns hes a great we boy with normal 2 yr old behaviours ,, shows great emotions and effection ,any thing else i can do with him? , he loves playing outside so hopefully when the weather picks up he can get out more,, thanks sinead

  60. Laura on January 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Sinead – I’m so glad you’ve seen the SLP. Why did she refer him to the pediatrician? Does she believe he has a medical issue, or is she referring to a developmental issue that requires more specific diagnosis?

    Even inside you can use high energy play routines to help engage him more. Check out my DVD “Teach Me to Talk” so taht you can SEE specific ideas and examples.

    Thanks for updating us! Laura

  61. KarenMarie on January 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I am so happy that I have found your articles on echolalia. Our son is 3 1/2 and began his echolalia about a year ago. He was diagnosed with autism at age 3. Similiar to some of these other stories, he is very verbal but echolalic. He will use two/three word phrases, or even Please May I Have Milk but recites a lot. He uses it for boredom, comfort and many times because he wants to communicate with us or other but doesn’t know how. Lately though, he has been saying to his older sister (with Down Syndrome) Come on Grace! Come on wanna…and might end the sentence with “wanna go on bed, etc” but for the majority of the day there is echolalia. The ABA therpapists and speech therapist that did his evaluation don’t really seem to know how to address it. We have waited to put him any preschool until we get a consistent ABA program and potty train him. However, his echolalia is a big stumbling block and a distraction in social settings like trying to participate in Sunday School.
    He loves DVDs and the computer but doesn’t have the imaginiation for toys. He has been reading since he was 14 months. His receptive language is delayed but he does pretty well with expressive language. Which DVD would be best for our situation from your website? Are there any other DVD’s specifically for the children?

  62. Laura on February 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Hi Karen Marie. Hopefully your team will come up with strategies that work for him as they proceed with his therapy. The main thing for you to remember is to model sentences the way he should say them.

    At home you should really focus on his receptive language and auditory processing. The DVD to give you the most help with this would be Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 with ideas for language learning games.

    You also want to make sure you’re focusing on his social skills with you and in play with other kids so that he knows what to say and when. At home introduce social games for this like Ring Around the Rosies. My therapy manual Teach Me to Play WITH You may give you some other ideas for this as well.

    The other thing I’d highly recommend would be to limit his DVD/computer time. When that’s not an option, children do look for other things to do. To build play skills start with toys that seem really simple and then work your way forward.

    Hope these ideas help! Laura

  63. Janet on May 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My son is 4 yrs. and 3 months. Most of his vocabulary is repetition. He appears to have both immediate and delayed echolalia. If I ask him questions, he usually answers back w/the question. He also memorizes entire books and movies. If I ask him a yes or no question, I sometimes get an answer, but it takes a lot of effort.

    He sometimes says short phrases to get what he wants. For example, if he drops a Lego, he might say “the red Lego” and point and start to get upset. He often gestures and makes sad sounds to show me what he wants.

    This is something that I thought he would outgrow. He is an only child, and I didn’t really realize where he should be by now except that my friends children are younger than him and can now have conversations whereas my son does not.

    I made my son an appointment w/a regional center for special needs children, but they cannot see me for a few weeks, so I began researching on my own and discovered the term “echolalia” and found this site. Now, I’m more concerned. To me, he doesn’t have other signs of autism, but I don’t know for sure. What else could it be? He hasn’t really been around other children most of his life until now, and my husband used to repeat everything he said to show that he was listening. Could that have caused this?

    Another thing my son does is that he wants us to repeat everything he says back to him. For example, if he is saying a line from a movie or book, he will keep repeating it until we say it back to him. That’s what most of our “conversations” with him consists of. We try not saying it back to him, but he’ll keep incessantly repeating it, and we usually give in. Should we repeat it back, and if not, what are more creative ways to interact when he wants us to repeat his lines back?

    Thank you for your help.

  64. Laura on May 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Janet – Thanks for your interesting question. I’m glad he’s being evaluated, even if it will take a while.

    I have seen children who get upset if their utterances aren’t repeated, and it’s a hard habit to break. You must, must, must adapt a more natural conversational pattern with him! Fight through it, even if it’s hard for a while. Try to play with characters and emphasize that they don’t repeat each other, IF his receptive language is good enough to understand that concept. Puppets are another thing I would try with short, more natural conversations.

    BUT repeating him isn’t likely what’s single-handedly caused his language issues – although it certainly hasn’t helped! He probably would have exhibited the delay/disorder regardless, but you’ve reinforced this behavior for at least a couple of years now, so he’s not going to get over it in a day or two, or a week or 2, or perhaps even longer. Children with typically developing language are carrying on conversations by 2 1/2 and certainly by 3, so he is behind. Since I can’t see him, of course I can’t say if his echolalia is associated with autism or not. Regardless, he’s exhibiting difficulty understanding the social aspects of language, and he likely doesn’t fully process what’s said to him as a typically developing 4 year old does, or this wouldn’t have happened. A professional who can see him will be in a better position to make more specific recommendations for you. Again – thanks for your questions. Laura

  65. Louise on June 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    My son is 39 months and has articulation difficulties, we can understand single words but it turns into jargon when he strings them all together. He has echolalia, delayed and immediate but will bring a book and say “read it” will ask for “bed”,”milk” etc simple requests, can say “I did it” in context and can tell us to stop if he doesnt like something!However he has never asked a question or answered a question except to say no to an option he is given.
    He enjoys playing with his brother but only plays alongside rather than with other kids at preschool. He has good eye contact and is very affectionate which is why I ruled out autism initially but now I’m not so sure. He loves books and cars but because its jargon can’t tell if its delayed echolaila or not. He also has terrible temper tantrums which I have always put down to frustration over not being able to communicate, hes doesnt seem to have sensory problems, routines or fixations although does suck his thumb and twirls his hair.
    The speech therapist has referred us to a paediatrician but if he didnt have speech delay or echolaila I would never have thought he was autistic. Any advice you can give before our appointment would be much appreciated.
    Louise from UK

  66. Laura on June 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Louise! I can’t tell if he’s on the spectrum because I can’t see him, but more often than not, echolalia is a marker for autism, and I would be concerned about him just based on what you’ve said. However, it doesn’t matter whether or not you get a specific diagnosis, because you need to keep addressing his language difficulties all the same. The excessive jargon nearly always points to receptive language problems – he’s not consistently understanding or processing exactly what words mean, or else he’d be using them more functionally. Keep working to build that single word vocabulary. When he’s using 50+ words consistently, he will begin to use more novel phrases. As his single word vocabulary improves, he’ll add more words to string together longer phrases. The key for him is making sure he understands and makes specific connections for words. He already “gets” that he needs to talk – now he just needs the specific words to fill in those gaps. Make sense? I hope so!! Laura

  67. ali on June 6, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    My son is 4yrs and 6 months and he has been recieving speech therapy for 2 months and his therapist brought up echolalia today. I immediately started researching and now I’m worried. I also noticed that he has trouble paying attention and he is also very hyper. I have suggested that he may have ADHD but now with the echolalia I am confused and worried that he may have autism. He does line up cars and other objects but since he was 3 1/2, at first he used to get upset but now not as much. He day-dreams quite often. He is friendly now, but wasn’t before. He sleeps with a stuffed dolphin and even takes him with himself to places sometimes. But he won’t get upset if he can’t find it. When I ask him “what is your name” he’ll answer with “what is your name,” followed by his name. He does mention several movie lines when it pertains to the situation, and others right out of the blue. Can he have both ADHD and Echolalia and autism? I’d appreciate your feedback. -ALI

  68. Louise on June 7, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Hi Laura
    Thank you for your quick response, I’m not sure if I used the correct terminology! When I say jargon I mean I just can’t understand what he is saying when he is talking but the words I can pick out do seem to be in context, for example when hes in the bath I catch “bath” “bubble” etc but I guess his problem is pronounciation for example he can’t seem to grasp dinner but says ninner instead, yet he can say “din” and “er” separately. So his speech becomes non understandable when he puts it all together. I also think he understands every thing I say as he always follows instructions and if for example I say lets go to the park he will get his bike. I simply am so confused as I cannot find any speech condition which fits him, don’t think it is apraxia as he has not got motor issues but in addition to his speech problems he does have echolaila which I guess points to autism on top of his speech disorder. Hope this all makes sense, but I was wondering if you can have apraxia without fine motor problems ?
    Thanks again

  69. Louise on June 8, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Hi Laura
    Hope you don’t mind me asking another quick question to add to my previous post. Having thinking about it a bit more I suppose I’m asking can the autism cause the unintelligable language, from what I have read I understand autisitc kids usually have no pronunciation problems when they do speak which is why I’m so confused. He is very vocal and you can see he really wants to talk which I guess is a positive. Mini success last night he said “I got it” when he took the milk out of the fridge so he can now differentiate between that and “I did it” which he shouts after completing a task, not sure if thats echolaila or not but it made me happy!!!

  70. Laura on June 16, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Hi Louise – Many children with autism use tons of jargon until they’re consistently associating meaning with their novel utterances. Many times early on in autism the only words that are intelligible are those echolalic utterances, and everything else is jargon. Kids on the spectrum can also have a specific speech diagnosis including apraxia (or motor planning problems) or phonological processing errors which also affects speech intelligibility since the child makes errors with many sound classes. These distinctions can be terribly difficulty for a parent to sort out which is why I hope that you can work with a speech-language pathologist. Even then it’s sometimes difficult to get a precise diagnosis for a very young child which leads back to my original point. It really doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, as long as he’s getting intervention to address his receptive and expressive language needs and begins to make progress understanding language and then increasing his vocabulary so that his SLP has some speech patterns to analyze! At this age, language is still the most important aspect of his treatment plan. I hope that makes sense to you! Thanks for your questions! Laura

  71. Laura on June 16, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Ali – Yes, a child can have multiple speech-language issues as a part of his overall communication disorder. Echolalia is often a characteristic of children with autism since it describes the pattern of being able to repeat verbatim what you’ve heard, but not necessarily understand what it means.
    To receive a diagnosis of autism, a child must also have difficulties in his/her ability to connect socially with others and demonstrate some repetitive or stereotypical behaviors in addition to the communication delays. Take a look at the other articles about autism here on the website for more information.

    ADHD can accompany ANY speech-language or other developmental issue since it refers to a child’s level of attention and regulation or activity level. However, ADHD reallly shouldn’t be diagnosed until a child is closer to school-age. Before then we should look toward sensory processing issues. An occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing can help you sort out all of those diagnostic differences.


    • Eve on October 9, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Gosh, I wish I would have had that inafimotron earlier!

  72. Louise on June 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you Laura, I now understand what jargon is and it makes more sense. We are seeing a speech therapist although she does not think he is ready for formal speech therapy but he is making great progress with PECS and makaton. thanks for a great website.

  73. Janet on June 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I’m trying puppets with my son now. Sometimes he is more into it than others.

    My son finally had has his evaluation at the Regional Center w/the child psychologist today. He will score the tests and give his official diagnosis at our next meeting, but he wanted me to know his preliminary diagnosis. He thinks my son has autism, mild to moderate, so in my case, it appears echolalia is linked w/autism.

  74. Srini on August 8, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Hi Laura,

    I have a 32-month son who is attending play school. The caretaker at the school called us last week to discuss some important issues regarding my son’s behavior. The following were her observations:
    * Gets distracted easily. Attention span less than 2 minutes
    * Always on the run. Never at his seat
    * Keeps repeating words or sentences
    * Does not make eye contact
    * Does not listen to the care taker. Likes to do his own thing
    * Does not interact with other kids
    * Likes watching cartoons and rhymes. Can sit for any amount of time in front of the television
    * Screams without reason

    We’ve observed most of this behavior at home too, but we thought it’s a part of growing up. The caretaker has advised us seek professional help. Is something really wrong with my son, or is this just a phase that he’ll grow out of?

  75. Laura on August 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Srini – While it’s true that some children are more active than others, the things you’re describing aren’t part of typical development. I would get a professional assessment to rule out any specific diagnosis, such as autism, and more importantly, to pursue therapy services to help him reach the milestones he’s missing. An occupational therapy evaluation will help you understand why he’s always on the move and has decreased attention to talk. A speech language pathology evaluation will help you target his communication skills. Until then, you may want to check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk so you can work on language with him at home. Good luck to you all!! Laura

  76. Srini on August 9, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Laura – Thank you for your advice. I will get an evaluation done.


  77. Maite on August 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Your article on echolalia practically describes my daughter’s trouble with speech! (she is 5 and has a rare genetic disease, PMLD, which affect myelin in her brain).

    I was wondering if you could recommend resources (articles, books, DVDs), yours or by others.

    If it’s better to do the Skype consultation for this, please just let me know.

  78. dearmommy on November 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Laura,

    That’s an excellent article! The delayed echolalia part seems as though you observed my son and wrote it!! He is 32 months old now and says “Put on your shoes” when he wants to go out; “don’t cry baby” when he cries; “dear did you fall, does it hurt” when he falls down; “do you want water/milk/cookie” etc etc… his communication is 100% delayed echolalia. I wrote on a paper all the sentences he is talking and it comes to around 60 different phrases and sentences!! This started when he was 21 months old at which time I thought his language is advanced because he was already using 3 word phrases.. that was the biggest mistake. He clearly shows few other signs of autism as well. He is currently started getting speech and occupational therapies through early intervention.

    Before 2 years he could tell ABC’s, 1 to 10, 6-7 nursery rhymes. I know this has nothing to do with his cognition as it is just rote memory. Could his echolalia indicate a cognitive disability too?? He has very good fine, gross motor skills and can match 12 piece shapes puzzle without guidance. But can name only circle, square and triangle. he is always confused with colors – cannot name them correctly.

    In your experience have you seen kids whose communication was 100% echolalic at around 3 years but later developed good conversational skills and does good(atleast average) in mainstream school?? I know every kid is different.. just trying to get some picture of my son’s school days..

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  79. Laura on January 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Hi Samprity – Based on the examples you’ve provided, I would agree that this is echolalia, but since I can’t see him, of course I don’t know what may actually be going on. I’d see an SLP for help. He’s echoing because he’s probably not processing the question, and there are likely other things he doesn’t understand too which is why he’s not conversational, even though he clearly has enough vocabulary to be conversational.

    Some of the other behaviors you’ve mentioned are red flags for autism, but you won’t know until you have him evaluated. Hopefully you live in an area with access to speech language pathologists and developmental therapists. An occupational therapist may also be very helpful to you in suggesting ways to help him settle down and regulate. Ask your pediatrician for a referral. If you’re in the USA, try your local public school system as well. Good luck to you all! Laura

  80. Jenn on May 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    My son is 9 yrs old and stutters. I never knew echolalia exist because I have been very worried about his repetitive behavior in copying movie lines and cartoons. He does it all the time and for a few years I’ve just been on top of him to not do it but I found it weird that he cannot stop on his own. I spoke to my pediatrician and he thought he was a just a smart kid. I thought he was on the autistic spectrum but he behaves normally and no one has been able to diagnose this. He takes speech therapy at school and no one has brought this to my attention. What should I do about his stuttering and echolalia?? Please help!

    • Laura on May 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Jenn. Let me begin by saying that my specialty is really with very young children, mostly birth to about 4, so 9 is OLD for me and treating fluency is NOT something I have done beyond grad school : ) I would suggest that you speak with his SLP about the echolalia. Surely they’ve noticed it at school. I’d also be really blunt about asking if there’s any possibility that he’s on the spectrum. I’d also ask her if she thinks it’s in any way related to his fluency. You’ll be better off discussing this with someone who knows him. Laura

  81. Surbhee on May 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Laura,

    My son is 33 months old and started talking late. Even now, people find it tough to understand what he talks. I have observed that he has picked up words from our vocabulary,but most of the part of the sentences he frames consists of jargons. He is social,likes making friends, initiates conversations with people like say hi or bye to them without we asking him to. He understands our instructions ( the ones that are repetitive or familiar); hums rhymes, identifies people and places. He has been repeating our questions rather than answering them like if we ask him what is your name, he will repeat what is your name followed by his name. Could it be autism?

    • Laura on May 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Surbhee – Without seeing him, I have no way of knowing what’s going on with him. Even if it’s not autism, he still needs to be seen by a speech-language pathologist to help you determine exactly what is happening and more importantly, what you can do to help him. He is having difficulty processing language since he’s repeating rather than answering and is having some issues with speech intelligibility so you will want to go ahead and pursue that assessment sooner rather than later. For the processing part, I’d highly recommend my DVD Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 for you so you can begin to address some of those things at home. I will also say that I have written a new book for parents about autism called Is It Autism? It should be available on Kindle by the end of May so check here for the official release date! I’ll be posting an announcement soon. Thanks and good luck to you!! Laura

  82. Carol on May 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Hi laura, my 31months old daughter repeats questions rather than answer, she mimics almost everything even when i sneeze or what she sees on tv. She says juz a few words. She reached all her milestones well, most of them very early. She has good eye contact and she loves play a lot and she mingles very well with kids. At nite while asleep, she has these involuntary leg movements and they make her at times not 2 sleep well. I live in kenya and i can hardly afford a meal. I dont know what next. Pls what could be the problem? Thanx. Carol.

    • Laura on May 17, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Hi Carol. Without seeing her I really have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on, but not using many words on her own at 31 months is a language delay. Does she follow verbal directions for you? Understanding language well enough to follow commands is a critical part of language development. Let me know and I’ll point you in the direction of some strategies you can use. Laura

  83. DD on May 26, 2015 at 6:22 am

    My son will be 3 in july …he babbles, says v few words…but v fond of Alphabets numbers and Rhymes.He is still not conversing us in language(he just takes us to the object or for potty even).his other milestone reached on time. eye contact is there but not every time…if he is thinking he will not look at.other wise happy child not much tantrums

    • Laura on May 26, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Hi DD. Any child who is not participating in conversation at 3 has a speech-language delay. Typically developing toddlers can take 4 to 9 conversational turns per topic by 2 1/2. In order to do that, children need a large enough vocabulary to express their own ideas as well as the ability to consistently understand what others are saying. Based on what you said, it sounds like he probably has difficulty with both of those important skills. I’d recommend an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist as soon as possible so that you can get moving with how to help him learn to understand and use words. Any child under 3 can be evaluated by your state’s early intervention program in most states. Google your state’s name and the phrase “early intervention” for contact info. Since he’s so close to his birthday, you may want to go ahead and call your local public school system to set up an eval. Some systems work through the summer evaluating children. Other systems may put you off until fall, but at least you’ll have a plan in place. The other thing I’d recommend is talking with his pediatrician about your concerns and asking for a referral for a speech evaluation at any other local resources you may have. In the meantime, I have fantastic products here for parents to get you started working with him at home. I always recommend that parents start with my DVD Teach Me To Talk so that you can SEE play-based therapy with toddlers. If he’s not following directions consistently, then also take a look at Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2. Good luck to you and thanks for your question!! Laura

  84. Raven on June 1, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Hi Laura,

    My son is 19months and I’ve been worried about him for months with regard to Autism. My family thinks it’s just my anxiety and some days i think so too. He is NOT speech delayed and has tons of words (too many to really count). However, i have notice that he also does echolalia talk. one phrase that he says a lot is from one of his books… “mommy daddy… and then a bunch of jargon i can’t understand”. but the way he says it is with excitement like how we read it in the book to him. He can repeat it up to 3-4 times in a row. he does speak on his own and ask for things he wants using 1 word and pointing like he’ll say “juice” and point to his cup. He can ask for chicken, apples, strawberries and even tell you to turn the tv. He also repeats things when i ask him a question like “do you want to eat” he’ll say “eat” and things like that. but he also tells you on his own if he wants to go outside… he’ll say outside and point at the door. sometimes he will start talking and i’m not sure what he’s saying or where it came from. The symptoms that made me worry about autism are his name response (he’ll respond almost all the time if he’s in another room and i call him but when we are in the same room it’s almost like he ignores me), his eye contact is good unless i’m holding him then he seems like he’s trying to avoid it but any other time it’s good even when he’s laying down it’s good. he has great joint attention as well. he can recite his abc’s if i ask him and count to 10 or more if asked… if i ask how old he is he will say 1. just 3 days ago he was introduced to 5 signs and he learned them with no problem. know tons of nursery rhymes and can break out into song at anytime during the day. can he just have good memory or could there be an underlying issue?

    My question is what kind of speech am i supposed to see in a 19month old. do they typically speak with echolalia and sometimes start talking for no reason? I don’t know what it typical… sometimes his behavior seems weird to me but then other times i just think he’s goofy.

    • Laura on June 1, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Hi Raven. Without seeing him I have no way of knowing what’s going on with him. I will say that echolalia does peak around his age so I’d not be too worried about that since he can communicate what he wants on his own too. If nothing was spontaneous, that’s when I’d be really, really concerned. It’s quirky that he will respond to his name when he’s outside the room, but not in the same room. That’s not very common. Also the eye contact thing – it IS more comfortable for lots of kids to look at you from far away than up close – it’s almost overwhelming for them, so that’s a tiny bit concerning, but you’ve given such nice examples of when he will maintain eye contact that I would not be too concerned about that. He really could have a great memory – all kinds of smart kids do – including those that are typically developing!! I almost never tell moms not to worry because I think anytime a mom has concerns that it’s a gut instinct coming through – even if no one else seems to notice. What I’d do it keep watching and if you’re still concerned when he turns 2, get an assessment at that point. IF this is keeping you up at night even now, go ahead and have it checked out. I hate it when moms torture themselves unnecessarily, but I’d also hate it if I told a mom to blow something off that turned out to be a big deal. Bottom line – trust your instincts!! In the meantime, keep emphasizing the social aspects of language with him – sharing experiences, playing together, etc… You’ll know if it’s getting worse instead of better. Good luck to you!! Laura

      • Raven on June 1, 2015 at 11:46 am

        Thanks Laura for the quick and thorough response… so glad I found your site!

  85. kelly on June 28, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Laura, my son is almost 3 1/2 and imitates and copies other kids while at the playground etc. He does this to kids older and younger than him. Most of the day he reinacts his favorite shows and has them memorized with a small amount of pretend play. If I ask him questions like if he wants something to drink he’ll say “I want something to drink, instead of just yes. He never answers questions with yes, but will say no. He will communicate what he wants or needs in sentence form but cannot answer questions like “how was your day”. He is very emphatic to others and enjoys other kids. He is my first child so it is really hard to know what is typical but I just want to make sure he is getting everything he needs.

    • Laura on June 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Kelly. Without seeing him, I have no idea of what’s going on with him. Based on what you described, it does sound like he could be having an issue processing higher level language he hears, especially when there’s not a “rote” answer he’s heard over and over. If you have a nagging feeling there’s something going on, it’s always better to rule out the possibility than to wait and miss valuable time to help him if there’s is an issue. I’d recommend that you see an SLP who specializes in preschoolers just to be safe. If there’s not an issue, he/she will let you know. If there is, you did the right thing by catching it so early. .If you can’t access services with insurance, you could also have him assessed for free by your local public school system. Good luck to you! Laura

  86. Jabs on July 2, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Laura ,my daughter is 3 and a half and has recently been diagnosed with mild autism.she has been cartoon obsessed since she was an infant.she knows all her alphabets,numbers,shapes and question is how do I bring her out of her cartoon world as she tends to imitate everything tht the cartoon would do ,I am quite worried because she has no interest in humans but would rather relate to the tv all day,even imitates quite a few phrases she has learned from it.she will only communicate what she wants my pushing me around and taking me to her desired object..

    • Laura on July 3, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Jabs. Since she’s recently diagnosed, it sounds like you’re getting a therapy program going for her. Your SLP should have some great ideas for you – if not, ASK! You’ll want to be sure you’re both on the same page. The BEST way that I’ve found to help a child learn to consistently interact with people is for you to BE THE TOY (or in your case – the SHOW) yourself. Social games are the easiest way to make that happen since there’s already a “script” for the both of you to follow. Games like Ring Around the Rosies, Ride A Little Horsie, Rocketship, etc… I have LOTS of those kinds of games outlined with step by step instructions for how to teach her to play with you in my book Teach Me To Play WITH You. I highly recommend it for parents of children who are newly diagnosed with autism and it’s the first thing I do in therapy and help parents learn how to do at home. If you’d like to SEE some of those kinds of games and other early therapy activities, check out my DVD Teach Me To Talk which will explain how to get play-based activities going at home and you can watch clips of kids from actual speech therapy sessions. Thanks for your question and good luck to you! Laura

  87. Loan on July 18, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Thank you for your educational article. My five year old daughter seems to quote movie lines and speaks of the characters a lot, and sometimes it makes no sense. For example, she wakes up in the morning, the first thing she says to me is ‘mummy, Eva is riding, and I have to ride with Eva to the back, and Wall-E, too.’ She uses movie lines sometimes to express her feelings, for example she sees something exciting, she asks for it using the same tone of the little girl from Despicable Me, ‘please, can we go there, please?’ And if I say no, she’ll use the exact same tone of that girl and says ‘oh but we have never been there.’

    She is easily disconnected from a group activity. She can respond to a question with a completely irrelevant comment, which again might refers to a movie line. We let her watch playschool half an hour before kinder every morning and a full length cartoon after school. Could this be the cause, and we should cut down tv time altogether for her? And what else could we do to help her?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Laura on July 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Loan. I would be concerned about her, but I do have some other questions about her. You’ve given me examples of her echolalia, but how about how she communicates her wants and needs? Can she tell you what she wants? Does she answer questions appropriately too? Does she participate in conversation with you, her teachers, and her friends? Does she follow directions consistently? What do her teachers say about her? You’ll want to know how she functions and communicates with others in every day life. If there are problems in those areas as well, I’d definitely, definitely, definitely recommend you see a speech-language pathologist who specializes in autism so that you can rule that out or get some help with knowing how to work with her to address her language needs. If she’s mostly echoing what she hears on movies and TV, then you may find success in limiting her screen time. I’ve had lots of parents make that connection and then implement a “no TV” policy with good outcomes. However, many times echolalia also exists with what she hears people say in real life, so you’ll have to sort that out too. An SLP can help you with this, but she needs to see her first. Thanks so much for your question and good luck to you! Laura

  88. Kit on August 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm


    I’ve really appreciated your responses on this thread so I figured I’d ask too. My daughter is 4 – just turned – with a speech delay. She’s been in speech therapy for over a year now. She’s gone from one – two word responses a year ago to being able to ask things like :

    My Sandals ? Where are they? or Where is it.
    Where’s daddy – or is daddy at work ?
    Can I have a croissant please? Or Can I have some juice please?

    She can say things like – I like this – or I love that – or No – I don’t like eating broccoli – or – I’m sorry for yelling and not listening. She also answers questions – sometimes correctly – or silence if she can’t. For example – I asked her who’s the teacher you see when you take the yellow school bus – and she was able to answer correctly.

    I still don’t consider her conversational as I don’t think she can do more than 2 – 3 turns in a conversation. Her speech has really expanded. I’ve had her assessed by the local children’s hospital, done the M-Chat, spoken to our pediatrician and we have a private speech therapist working with her. She recently started speech therapy with the school system ( Added to her current therapy) and after the second session the therapist indicated concern that she might be autistic.

    Through all of our assessments this is the first time that has come up. Her reason for concern was :

    1 – My daughter would cover her ears sometimes ( something we’ve noticed her do with loud noises or mechanical noises )
    2 – My daughter is echolalic ( immediate and delayed ). Her echolalia has decreased significantly but I do see her rely on it when she’s uncomfortable. It isn’t her primary form of communication.
    3 – She felt my daughter was hyperactive – that she seems to like to get up and walk around in the class. But noted she would sit down and do a structured activity

    Am I correct in being concerned about her drawing a conclusion after just 2 sessions? Is it normal for a kid with a speech delay to be echolalic until they learn to speak? Does a kid have to be autistic if they use echolalia? Would an autistic kid be able to ask the types of questions or articulate wants and needs ?

    Sorry for typing the wall of text.

    • Laura on August 31, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Kit. I’m glad your little girl has made so much progress – good for you and her!! Let me answer your questions as best I can without seeing her or asking any follow-up questions. I do think it’s okay for an SLP (or any other therapist, doctor, teacher, etc…) to express a concern to you after 2 sessions. That’s what professionals do – and most of the time, parents DO want to know what the therapist thinks is going on. I think if she said to you, this is a language delay, you’d be just fine, but because she mentioned autism, it’s more upsetting and causes you to want to question her rather than really consider what she said. Has anyone else talked with you about autism or is this the first person to bring it up? If she’s not the first person to address autism, then it’s certainly something you should consider and pursue further assessment – however, I do think they’ll let you know at school if her teacher notes red flags and begins to be concerned too.

      While echolalia can be a part of language development, if it’s continued to when she’s 4, I’d be concerned too, even for a kid with a language delay. If echolalia is her only “quirk” then you know not to be as concerned, but if she’s truly demonstrating other core deficits noted in kids with autism (difficulty with interaction, difficulty with language, stereotypic or repetitive movements, sensory processing differences, unusual fascinations/obsessions, etc…) then you do want to go ahead and take a closer look – even if it is heartbreaking for you to consider. I have a new book for parents who are in your position and trying to sort it all out. You can find info about that here – Is It Autism?

      And to answer your questions – yes, kids with autism DO learn to ask questions, and talk, and articulate their wants and needs and can be competent enough to go on to live fantastic lives and rule the world! They probably will have a delay in learning to do so – and language and social delays are the areas they may continue to struggle with most – but I’ve worked with lots of 4 year olds with autism who DO ask/answer questions and state their needs quite well. It’s the OTHER things that let us know it’s not just a language delay and that language delay was PART of their overall problem, but not the entire issue.

      Without seeing your little girl, I have no way of knowing what’s going on with her. I’d ask her private SLP to weigh in on these things if you haven’t already. You’ll also want to talk with her preschool teacher too.

      Also…. try not to be upset with the SLP who suggested autism, even if turns out that her observations are wrong. You WANT someone working with her who is looking to uncover what’s at the root of her language issues, to delve in to what could be going on with her, to have difficult conversations with you, and not just “do the minimal.” It may not feel like that to you right now, but that’s the kind of therapist you want for her.

      Good luck to you! Laura

  89. Virginia on September 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for this article, it is very helpful. I have a boy who will turn 4 in two days and he has speech delay (maybe a light Dysphasia, too young to be sure). He is also echolalic sometimes, but doing very well. Is language is expending every day.

    We have seen a lot of specialist (spl, neuropsychologist, ergo therapist, etc…) and no one seems to be thinking that he is autistic because he interact very well with his peers and adults. Also, he has no other development issues. However I do suspect that he has an attention deficit. A proper evaluation will be done soon to know if he is autistic.

    My questions are:
    1) Can someone with ADHD (but not autistic) have echolalia? He does echolalia when he is not paying attention most of the time.

    2) Would you consider that it is echolalia if he repeats what you says but change a bit the sentence or add a word? For example, is friends would say to me, “can we play with the cars?” and my son would repeat right after him “can we play with the cars mommy”? He is repeating but he include the word mommy in this case. Can it be just imitation? He does that a lot.
    Thank you!

  90. Iram saleemi on April 15, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Hi laura
    Your blog is really a sign of hope n a way of teaching for us.
    M a concerned or over concerned mom from pakistan. Its really difficult to find a speech pathologist in my city..
    My son started his speech when he waz of 3 years.before, he used to spoke in his personal language like ffak pptaa ptta..or very few words like papa mama dada
    From his age of months he used to respond to his name. He has been very moody since his childhood. I take him to several child psychologists but they said all is well. We bought him various objects which he solved easily n then those objects lose his attention. He drew lines on the wall of home with colors leaving no space..he hold pencil like a sword with aggression sometimes..h is 3 year n 6 months. He has many words in his dictionary .I put him in play group in school. He loves to go to school. He likes to do homework. But v soon he looses concentration. He repeats my questions n still his spoken is that clear. Like mango is mano n banana is banama for him. He copies v easily specialyy his favorite cartoons n skits. He repeats certain words again n again..he learns soon but then move to play r dance..
    Plz help me guide me
    A worried mother

  91. neha garg on May 1, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    i am from India .i am looking for some answers for my 4yr boy. he has language delay ,so the speech.he started speaking properly from the last 7-8 months.he repeats wht teacher says but he doesnt repeat wht i(his mother) it ok if he is having echolalia?

  92. Jessica Dluhos on June 6, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    My daughter is 20 months old and is incredibly echolalic. She rarely pieces together words to make her own sentences, but uses phrases we have used to communicate her needs. For example when she’s thirsty she says “do you need a drink.” She also uses things that have happened in the past to explain current events. For example, if she falls and gets a scratch on her knee, when someone asks her what happened she says “Zoey bit you,” which used to happen when she fed our dog treats. Is this something to be concerned about as far as being on the spectrum? My daughter is displaying some other signs but I am wondering if the echolaloism is a cause for concern, or age appropriate for 20 months.

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Happy Therapists, Teachers, Parents & Children

"Hi Laura - I just wanted to say I received my copies of the Apraxia workbooks yesterday and I LOVED workbook 1 (not ready for 2). I'm on chapter 8 and going through the questions carefully so I'm prepared to help my son. I knew it was a great book when you acknowledged the fact that sometimes therapists and doctors don't bring a positive and supportive vibe when diagnosing. I remember being terrified at the mention of apraxia and ASD by both because they had these very concerned looks and made it seem like it was a death sentence. I know now (in LARGE PART, THANKS TO YOU AND YOUR VIDEOS) that it doesn't have to be!! I see a future for him now. You SINGLE-HANDEDLY, through your books and videos have empowered me to help my son after the doctors and therapists have gone home. You've given me strategies, play ideas, plans on how to keep moving forward. I don't always do things right, but I know I'm on the right track and I love that I can reference, and re-reference your books to help me keep going. As I was reading the book, I was so proud of myself because I've used strategies from your previous books and it felt good because I could check off a lot of the skills that you discuss. So, thank you for all your previous books as well!!"

"Gosh, I love all of your emails/podcast/website, just everything!! I work in early intervention as a behavior analyst and am learning so much from you!"

Thank you!




I love your work! I am a professor of early childhood special education and a speech language pathologist! I have worked to help children learn to communicate and I know how valuable the information you share is for both early interventionists and pediatric speech language pathologists!

Thank you for systematically organizing and explaining essential steps for young children to learn and develop. You are having a great impact on our profession, the ECE profession and families!"



"Thank you.

If this is Laura herself reading this email let me take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have put forth for us professionals. I own every manual (except the autism manual) and have watched every course on DVD. I have listened to countless podcasts. All of what I’ve come to be as an Early Intervention speech therapist was absolutely to your credit. With your resources at my side I have never needed to scramble for answers and strategies and above all the clear language I use when communicating with parents. My fun, animated affect and key phrases I use have been learned through watching your example. So….thank you! May you be blessed."


"I just wanted to thank you so much for your incredible help! You are so kind and lovely and every time I implement something you've taught in your manuals or videos it is always a success, I cannot thank you enough. I really appreciate how specific you are in giving us examples of wording to use and how to use a toy in therapy with your videos, it is exactly what I need to properly help my little students. I also really appreciate your list of books of list of toys. I have seen my little students make significant progress thanks to you. I'm looking forward to watching more of your videos, taking more of your CEU's, and reading more of your materials. From the bottom of my heart: thank you so much again!!"


"Dear Laura,

What an inspiration!

Thank you for helping me be a better Developmental Therapist. I often listen to your podcasts which help me help families.

Your enthusiasm, professionalism and
the sheer volume of information is so great.

You are part of my team.

I just wanted you to know I appreciate you."


"Dear Laura,

Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much knowledge in such a clear and enthusiastic way.

As a retired audiologist with a fabulous and language delayed grandson, I used your podcasts and outstanding publication, The Autism Workbook, to inspire and guide me over the past year.

It works!! He went from barely verbal, no gestures, didn't respond to his name etc etc to a verbal, social, curious, ready to imitate anything, fill in the blanks on familiar "set" speech, generate his own totally appropriate and mostly understandable sentences...not just short phrases anymore... full little paragraphs...about imaginary things, what he did during the day, what he wants. True communication!

You make a powerful difference in this world! ❤"

With gratitude,

"Laura Mize, you are a Godsend. I don’t know how one human can have so many helpful things to say in a beautifully organized way, so often. Always amazes me when another super helpful email comes from you, and for free. With free YouTube videos and cheap CEUs. THANK YOU!!!"

Sheila, Canada

"I purchased the book on autism and have watched the #400s series podcasts. Laura Mize has been more effective in teaching autistic tendencies, than many professors, shadowing professions, and the 100s of books, articles and classes or videos, or live workshop speakers, have been at teaching effective practices for a child with ASD. Some of the many lessons she has taught, which I will now use, to be a more effective Interventionist, include but are not limited to: red flags, typical behaviors, self-stimulating behaviors, not taking away toys, rather showing child to play with toy appropriately. She gives examples of child's actions, "inappropriate," explains the reason for: why the child is engaging in these behaviors and how they can be replaced with more appropriate, effective fuctional and age-appropriate skills."

"I’m sure Laura gets these messages all the time, but I thought I’d share. I stumbled across Laura‘s "Autism or Speech Delay?" YouTube video when I really needed it. This video finally listed and explained some of the red flags my son was showing for autism. I share the link anytime a parent is questioning in my FB autism group. This mother I don’t even know said Laura's video changed her life. I know exactly how she feels because It changed families too. Thank you to everyone at Teach Me To Talk."


"Good Morning Laura,
I received your book (The Autism Workbook) yesterday and it is absolutely amazing! As I evaluate young children (0-3) for developmental delays and write plans for them with their parents, there are a ton of ideas that are ready to use. Others that reinforce what I have been doing, and saying, all along. Thank you so, so much for writing this incredible book and pulling everything together in one place!"


"Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge, experience, and guidance.
I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."

"Laura Mize, all I have to say is that ALL YOUR STRATEGIES WORK."

ANNE, YouTube viewer

"We have 7 SLPs in our preschool (public) program for special needs children (ages 3-5) and we use your courses, books, and techniques every day! :-) We have seen our preschoolers make such great gains!"


"I just received Teach Me to Play With You, and it is ALREADY WORKING! WOW!

Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!"  It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me!  Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”

"I wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you. I started watching your videos/podcasts about 4 months ago. My son has gone from losing words he previously used, only having about 7 words at his 2 year check up in August (assessed at a blended 10 month language level) -- to now having so many words, increased social engagement, following commands, spontaneously requesting things, and naming letters & numbers (not in order) as well as colors. We had our monthly meeting with our SLP through the state infants & toddlers program and it felt like we were just bragging the whole time, but I knew in the back of my head it was because I have been using strategies you taught me.

We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.

Thank you so much, endlessly."


"I just want to tell how fortunate I feel to have found your website and you!! I became a special instructor in EI almost a year ago and I started with hardly any applicable training. I felt so lost and confused as how to help the kids I work with learn how to use words and play. Honestly, I didn't even understand the importance of play, although I always played with my kids. But, once I started to watch your podcasts and get some of your manuals I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally teach these kids and their families something of value from a real therapist and based on research!. Thank you so much for seeing the need to help other EI service providers and providing a forum to share your knowledge and years of valuable experience. I'm sure you get a lot of these emails every week if not every day, but I wanted to make I could add to those notes of gratitude!! THANK YOU again!!"


"Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for these emails and your books, I have them all and they have seriously saved and improved my sessions with my kiddos. Huge thank you."


"I was very frustrated with how speech therapy was going for my child. I would take him and drop him off and not hear much of anything from his therapist and teachers other than, "He had a good (or a bad!) day." Your materials were invaluable for us because I learned how to work with him on his speech. I learned how to teach him to talk and play. I learned how to pay attention to his cues and work with him to teach him to communicate. Without it, I have no doubt he still wouldn’t talk."


"Hi! I just wanted to say (from an SLT perspective) how incredibly useful I am finding absolutely all of your articles, blogs and resources - I only discovered your site last month and have just received all your books which I feel I am learning more than on my entire university training course!! But also the way in which you give specific, realistic, fun, encouraging ideas for working with parents is really just fantastic, I only wish I have your site sooner! Thanks so much from the UK! Kind regards."


"I just wanted to reach out to say thank you for making things a little easier to manage for me this year. I made the transition from school SLP to private therapist about a year ago. While the change was welcome, it was a lot, and I was just getting my footing in the clinic when I began teletherapy full time. Your website has been a huge lifeline in helping me work with late talkers and coach their parents in an accessible but effective way, even remotely. I look forward to getting your emails each week. I am floored by the amount of valuable, free information that your website provides, and I’m looking forward to investing in your workbooks soon. A sincere thank you for all you do!"


"You are an inspiration! I am truly grateful for the way you put into words and writing how to do what we do as SLPs. At this time in my 13 years of practicing, I find your encouragement keeps me going. As a single mom, I find it a stretch to buy materials these days and I am so thankful for the freebies you so generously share that help me teach my families. I don’t have much time to put together lists or quick references for parents!! Much gratitude!!"


"I just really appreciate your courses! I have two new clinicians that I’m working with and have recommended these courses to both of them. I’ve watched quite a few and have learned so much about serving this population. To be honest, before I started implementing your strategies I was a little frustrated with the lack of progress. My skills with engaging these little ones have improved so much! Thank you so much for making these CEUs so valuable!" C, SLP