What is Echolalia?

Echolalia, which is often used synonymously with imitation, refers to a child’s repetition or imitation of words andEcholalia messages that they have heard other people say. Echolalia is a normal part of a child’s development and is how most children learn language, specifically between 12-18 months of age.

There are two classifications of echolalia, immediate: repetition of what the child just heard, and delayed: repetition of something heard previously from a conversation or television show for example. The need for a child to imitate that from which he hears, normally dissipates by 18 months of age and completely disappears by 30 months of age. Echolalia is not a functional form of communication for children beyond 30 months of age. If echolalia persists beyond that age, this is likely an indication that a child has a poor comprehension and processing of language and/or difficulty with expressive language.

How might I help treat my child’s echolalia?

Echolalia in children often goes untreated or unrecognized by adults and professionals. Parents should therefore pay close attention to their child’s use of imitation, and children with echolalia persisting past 18 months of age should be screened for speech and language impairments, in order to determine if any delays in receptive, expressive or pragmatic language skills exist. Additionally, at home a parent can help their child by: modeling appropriate responses to questions, use visual supports to aid a child’s comprehension of spoken language (e.g. pointing, holding up objects when giving the child a choice between two items), and encouraging turn-taking activities.

Our Approach and North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy we provide comprehensive evaluations to examine your child’s speech-language strengths and weaknesses. We develop and set individualized goals for each child, and we establish home programs in order to insure that those skills taught to your child by our therapists carry over into your child’s home and social environments as well.