Does your child keep repeating the same word or phrase? Have you noticed your child repeating your questions instead of answering it? Are they not learning new words or not using the words that they learned? If yes, these can be the symptoms of echolalia in kids. It is reported that up to 75% of autistic people have experienced echolalia. Many parents are concerned about their children’s repetitive speech. Keep reading to find out the details, tips and foods to manage echolalia in children.
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What is Echolalia?
When your child is repeating or echoing words, phrases or sounds that they hear, it is known as echolalia. Repetitive speech is a closely associated feature of verbal development, especially in young kids who are learning to communicate. Most children will begin to blend in their own words with repetitions of what they hear by the age of two. Kids may outgrow echolalia by the age of 3. In children, echolalia can be a symptom of autism or developmental delay, while in adults, it can be a sign of neurological disorders. A stroke or psychological problems such as Tourette’s syndrome are examples of these.
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Why do kids repeat words?
Kids may employ echolalia due to various reasons. Here are some common reasons,
Self-stimulation: This behaviour is also known as “stimming,” this relaxing approach employs echolalia speech patterns. Repetition can help your kid to deal with excessive sensory issues.
Prefabrication: When it is too challenging or distressing for children to generate their own original words, they might communicate using repeated phrases and words.
Self-talk: Memorising phrases, such as those heard from parents, school, or television, might assist a child in talking.
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Symptoms of Echolalia
The basic characteristic of echolalia is the repetition of previously heard phrases and noises. It can be immediate where kids repeat the words after hearing it and can be delayed where kids repeat it after hours or days. Other symptoms of echolalia include anger or irritation during conversations, anxiety, and muteness.
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Causes of echolalia
Echolalia can be caused by various factors. Here are some common causes of echolalia in kids
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Head Injury
- Learning disabilities
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Types of Echolalia
1. Interactive echolalia, also known as Functional echolalia is focused on interaction with others.
2. Non-interactive echolalia happens when there is no communication.
3. Mitigated echolalia occurs when some words are repeated with some variations
4. Immediate and delayed echolalia describes the duration for repeating the words after hearing the word.
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Tips that can help to overcome echolalia in children
Parents can follow some strategies to help their children to overcome echolalia. Here are some therapies and tips:
Speech therapy is a crucial therapeutic choice for kids with ASD since they struggle with social communication. It improves an individual’s communication abilities with a certified speech-language pathologist, enabling them to express their needs and wishes more clearly. When speech-language pathologists collaborate with teachers, support staff, families, and the child’s classmates to encourage functional communication in natural contexts, speech treatment for people with ASD is frequently most effective.
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2. Home trainings
People with echolalia may benefit from working with others at home to improve their communication abilities.
- Use the appropriate terminology that will be understood if it is repeated. Don’t ask questions. Example: Tell “Let’s read this story” instead of asking “Shall we read this story?”
- Comment on what your child is doing everyday.Example: Wash your hands with soap, eat the vegetables, play with your toys etc
- Design short phrases. Include “I want” before starting to speak.
- Don’t miss any opportunity and use everyday situations to create communication. Keep on telling the name of different objects around the house.
- Give lots of praise and positive reinforcement while also correcting, instead of criticising the child for not saying the word properly.
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Foods and Herbs that help to manage echolalia in children
Some of the foods that can help with the speech related issues include:
All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and help in boosting memory. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions and helps out with speech.
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Apart from nuts, seeds like flax, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers. Therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration, memory and attention span. One of the easiest to feed brain boosting foods for kids
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Brahmi is a superfood for the brain. It helps to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals associated with learning and memory. It has shown to improve spatial learning and retaining power in kids. That is why in older times, kids were often given Brahmi powder with ghee/honey. This would increase their focus and attention while keeping them calm and distressed.
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Shankhapushpi is a traditional remedy for increasing the functioning of the brain. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
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Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. It can reduce anxiety and stress. Moreover, it increases acetylcholine levels which support better memory, mental focus and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body’s capacity to heal any nervous system damage. It also helps in speech improvement.
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