How to help your child respond appropriately
Created by Koyeli Sengupta Updated on Sep 22, 2020
Echoloalia or scripting is a condition where a child on the autism spectrum may not be able to process certain information and hence may repeat a word or phrase that he hears or a question that he is asked. According to Dr. Koyeli Sengupta, a Developmental Pediatrician from UMMEED Child Development Center, Mumbai,little babies learn to talk by repeating what they hear but as they grow older they acquire their own vocabulary and no longer repeat what they hear. This means they are able to employ this vocabulary to create phrases and sentences and use them in the right context or situation. Sometimes, in autism, echolalia persists for a longer duration of time. Echolalia also may increase if
1. The child has not been able to understand the instructions completely
2. The child is anxious
3. The child has been given instructions in a manner which does not make sense to him.
4. The child may not have the adequate vocabulary to answer or respond.
5. The child may not understand what is expected of him
So, it may also occur that the child is able to respond appropriately when the parent gives instructions or asks a question. however, the same question asked by another person and in a different way may not elicit the same response as the child may not understand what is being said. Example, in a school setting, a teacher may say something to the entire class and the child may not be able to comprehend it fully and will end up repeating the statement or question.
To address this issue, Dr. Koyeli suggests simplifying the question or instruction so that it is easy for the child to make sense out of it. She also recommends breaking down a longer question or instruction into smaller questions and smaller steps. For instance a question like ' what did you have for lunch today' may not be easy for the child to process. Instead, you can break it into parts and ask, " Did you eat?". Once the child has responded, you can ask, " What did you eat?'. This will help the child to process and understand the questions better and respond appropriately.
Dr. Koyelii also suggests another method which is speaking the sentence or instruction that you want your child to say. So instead of saying "Do you want water", you could say " I want water". The child will then repeat this sentence but will also learn to communicate his need in the process. She believes that in such a way, repeating can be used to teach new skills of communication to the child.