Monday, March 20, 2006

Dr. Strangetalk or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Echolalia

I've decided to write the post I desperately wanted to read a few years ago when Bud's speech was exclusively echolalic, when I was split down the middle, half of me thrilled to hear the sound of his voice and the other half of me anxiety-ridden by the thought that I should find a way to make him stop obsessively quoting videos. I felt like I was standing at a high-stakes crossroad without a guide map, and I had the overwhelming feeling that whatever I did at that very moment would lead to a happy, rewarding life for Bud or would unleash the doomsday machine that would spell the end of life as we knew it.

It started the summer before Bud turned three, on a family trip to a Sesame Street-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania. Bud was in Early Intervention but had not yet gotten a diagnosis. We knew he had a speech delay, but beyond that we just thought he was a little quirky in a high-maintenance kind of way. In retrospect I recognize that much of the language he did have then was echolalic (singing songs word for word, falling down and saying "areyouokay?"), but I didn't really see it at the time.

The issue came into much clearer focus at the theme park, though. It was the first time I remember Bud having the "I love this, make it stop! I hate this, I want more!" reaction that I have come to know as one of the hallmarks of dysregulation for him. Bud was simultaneously enchanted and overwhelmed in an overactive, unfocused sort of way. And throughout our time at the park, our mostly nonverbal boy kept repeating the same thing over and over: "Duh-No! Ahssiswih dunna. Deedeedee! DUWAH!" I couldn't understand what he was saying, but there was something about the cadence of his speech that triggered recognition in the recesses of my mind.

On the same trip, our hotel television was one that powered on to a hotel "preview" channel with a cartoon cowboy who welcomed us and told us what to expect during our stay. Bud was fascinated with this cowboy, and after a couple of days in the hotel he started mimicking the character's speech. My immediate reaction was one of panic, and the word flashed in my brain: ECHOLALIA. I began to pay more attention to the other phrase that I kept hearing from Bud throughout the trip: "Duh-No! Ahssiswih dunna. Deedeedee! DUWAH!" and kept running it through the filters in my mind - what did it mean?

I remember the moment that I figured it out. I was strapping him into his car seat, and he was clutching several of his Sesame Street figures (one of his quirks was the tendency to carry small characters with him wherever he went.) I started saying the script along with him, paying close attention to the tone, the inflection and the emphasis he put on each syllable, and it hit me: Baby Bear, from the beloved Elmo's World video - "Behold! Artist with crayon! trill of music Drawing!"

I was fascinated and horrified.

From that point on, I began to tune in more intentionally to the cadence of the sounds he made and I came to recognize that he was repeating scripts from favorite videos frequently. As his speech grew less garbled, it became even more obvious. At first the scripts did not seem to serve a purpose beyond their play value and their self-soothing qualities. But he was talking and scripting more and more and more.

That's when I first encountered that crossroads feeling. What should I do? If I try to make him stop scripting will he just stop talking altogether? Will he feel like I'm telling him that he is not good enough? But if I just let him keep scripting will it drive him further and further into a fantasy world, and further and further away from the real one? I'm sure I must have read things. I'm sure I must have talked to people - his EI specialist, his doctor... someone! - but I have no recollection of any advice that I got about it.

I just remember thinking that the most important thing - the thing that would keep him in this world, that would make him prefer the real world to the fantasy world - was connection to other people. You can connect without language, I reasoned, but language without connection is useless. And so, the content of his speech became a secondary concern. My primary goal, instead, was to use his speech to connect with him - however and whenever I could.

So I learned the scripts, and climbed into his fantasy world with him. I tried to engage him in dual-scripting - you say one line, I'll say the other - to approximate the reciprocal flow and give-and-take of conversation. I worked with him to develop scripts of our own - private jokes that we shared with each other. And whenever I could, I looked for the moments when he was well regulated and I tossed a little chaos into the creation, hoping to provide just enough dissonance to move him forward a bit, to expand the possibilities of language, to help him consider that there could be more to talking than scripting alone.

Bud continued to script, but as time passed I noticed a clear evolution in his scripting. It became less random. He began to assess his surroundings and select the script he had that best fit the circumstance. So if he wanted to play ball, he would approach us with ball in hand and say "Quick, Dipsy. Help Laa Laa catch the ball."

After more time passed, he began to modify his scripts. The sentence structure would remain intact, but he would swap out the pertinent details, so that "Quick, Dipsy. Help Laa Laa catch the ball" would become "Quick, Daddy. Help Mama catch the ball." As his talent to modify scripts became more sophisticated, it allowed him to interact and be understood by people outside our home. His speech patterns still sounded stilted and awkward to "outsiders," but they could finally understand the basic gist of what he was trying to say - and it seemed that this new milestone became a real turning point for him.

Bud's confidence seemed bolstered by his ability to be understood, and allowed him to start taking risks with language and start putting words together on his own. Using creative, spontaneous language was much more difficult for Bud and took a great deal more time than it did for him to assess a situation, mentally thumb through hours of memorized scripts to find the most relevant script to the given situation, and modify the script by swapping out a few details. As a result his creative speech was much slower and less polished than his modified scripts. But, in time, "Quick, Daddy. Help Mama catch the ball" became "Daddy ball?". And slowly, slowly, two-word and three-word phrases became sentences, and sentences became conversations, and personal pronouns began to match, and the rules of grammar began to emerge.

It was in the midst of this transformation that I attended a workshop led by SLP Barry Prizant, and during one of the breaks I told him about Bud's increasingly complex modification of movie scripts. Dr. Prizant told me that Bud was using "mitigated echolalia," and that it was an excellent prognostic indicator for future language development.

"I'll bet you'll start seeing spontaneous language soon," he said.

"We already are, " I said.

Dr. Prizant smiled and said, "And I think you'll probably see a lot more." He pointed me in the direction of some great articles on echolalia. One of them was Finding the Words by Marge Blanc in the May-June 2005 issue of Autism/Aspergers Digest Magazine. The article talked about "gestalt language acquisition," or exhibiting delayed echolalia with whole sentences repeated verbatim. I read the article with fascination: it seemed that she was writing about Bud.

And there in the sidebar was a quick overview titled The Stages of Gestalt Language Acquisition. It could have been titled The Stages of Bud's Use of Language. It read:

Stage 1: Communicative use of language gestalts (learned and spoken in their entirety) - "Let's get out of here!", "Want some more?"

"Quick, Dipsy. Help Laa Laa catch the ball!"

Stage 2: Mitigation into chunks (a) and recombining (b) - (a) "Let's get + out of here!", "Want + some more?"; (b) "Let's get some more!", "Want out of here?"

(a) "Quick + Daddy. Help Mama + catch the ball!"
(b) "Daddy catch the ball!"

Stage 3: Isolation of single words and morphemes, and beginning generation of original two-word phrases - "Get...more!", "Want...out?"

"Daddy ball?"

Stage 4: Generation of more complex sentences - "I got more.", "I wanna go out?"

"I playing ball with you, Daddy!"

Bud still does a lot of scripting, especially when he's dysregulated or when he is focused on pretend play. But he also uses a lot of spontaneous language, with increasing frequency, in a greater variety of situations, and with a greater number of people. He is really beginning to understand this confusing morass we call "language."

And so the movie quotes, the sound bites, the long streams of monologue and dialogue he recites verbatim - they are no longer the enemy. I am no longer standing at a high-stakes crossroad. Bud has chosen his path and I've joined him on it. Our traveling companions may include Blue and Joe, Snook and Bob, Jack and Mary, Zack and Weezie, Zoboomafoo, the Teletubbies, and the entire cast of Sesame Street, but we travel secure in the knowledge that we are moving forward, together, toward a very promising future.


Alana said...

The way you describe Bud reminds me almost exactly of my first client Jamie. He did exactly what Bud did in that progression. He's 15 now and you and Bud should meet him...he's doing wonderfully (his current favorite hobby is geocaching with his mom and dad). Your family and his have a lot in common...

kristina said...

Our therapists (speech and ABA) have always counseled us that echolalia is a good thing---a stage on the way to, as you note, spontaneous language. Charlie's echolalia has grown in the past year. We too have always attended to the "cadence"--I call it the melody-of his phrasings, in which consonants are the last to come through but vowel sounds, rhythm, pause, and meter, are all.

With Charlie, echolalia means "he can talk in full sentences who cares if he's repeating!' and also "he can talk!". Period.

Having been reading your blog since around the time of that burgeoning of Bud's "own" speech, I'm quite thrilled to have been able to bear such witness!

(And look for Lance Strate's article on Echo and Narcissus---he teaches Communication at Fordham.)

Christine said...

I'm glad you DID write the post that you wish you could have read way back when -- because I seem to find myself at that very same crossroads. I so love to hear Oliver speak but so much of it is echolalic that it scares me. I do exactly what you describe though: I enter into his world hoping to draw him out a bit. I hope I see the same progression with him that you did with Bud.

not my blg said...

Alexander has used immediate echolalia a lot during the past 7 months. About 2 months ago he started scripting a little bit. Now (age 3 on 2/25/06), he is starting to script a little bit more. Last night we were playing with some pink silly string. The silly string began to pile up on the floor and Alexander walked around it while saying "Watch out Tinkie Winkie there is tubby custard". The silly string did look like tubby custard and I told my wife that this is actually a good milestone. Glad you could confirm it because I'm often envious of Bud's language.

Jannalou said...

I think someone needs to do a study on what, exactly, the fascination is with Teletubbies. The 11yo boy I hang out with twice a month is going through a phase of them right now. It's been a couple of months. He sings the theme song, he tells me what each of them has, etc. etc. When we're at the mall, he self-talks about them. Which I don't mind for myself, but other kids laugh at him and I want to shake them. Not that he seems to notice, really.

Anonymous said...

hi! i'm so glad i'm back and able to catch up on everything in bud's world! i love this post. you show such trust in bud and in yourself and it comes back to you with his obvious leaps and sure progress in all areas. it's very inspiring.

Wendy said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post. It gives so much hope to parents of echolalic children. C doesn't really echo what we say to him but he doesn't talk much, other than labeling objects. He has started using simple 2 or 3 word sentences in the last week or two and we're thrilled with his progress. I love when you post the wonderful things that come out of Bud's mouth. Like I've said before, he sounds like a really neat little guy.

Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Thanks for writing this post. I spoke with an SLP about Prizant and echolalia and it's a good thing it isn't viewed as a hopeless thing anymore.

I haven't read the stages yet so I find this interesting. I haven't found an SLP to work with Adam fo a while now and am looking for someone who really understands this process. Thanks for writing it out.

Phil Schwarz said...

This is sooo familiar... My son Jeremy (15 now, and quite verbal) acquired speech at ages 4-6 through something like what Bud progressed through, and what Prizant calls mitigated echolalia. But we had a better term for it: *recombinant* echolalia :-).

A Miller analogy, in honor of Temple Grandin:

I think that the characteristically autistic pattern of speech acquisition (and comprehension!) that you have described, is to non-autistic speech acquisition and comprehension, as bovine stomachs are to carnivorous or omnivorous ones. It takes more steps and more time, and the job gets done differently, but the end result is still the ability to communicate effectively.

-- Phil

Anonymous said...

first off, that is one of THE greatest titles I've ever read!

Having said that, I'll say that you provide Hope For The Future-- we're still not-so-patiently waiting for echolalia to set in for our 3.5 y.o.. He's got a FEW sounds and phonemes, but not much. Love the writing.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is the right place to ask so forgive me if I am out of 3 year old son is in EI for a speech delay. He will be starting EI school in the fall. During his evaluation to get into EI school it was noted he was echolalic, but after doing all of the reading I could find he really doesn't seem to fit what I have read about echolalic. When asked a yes or no question, "do you want milk" his answer will be Milk. NOT yes or no. Did you have fun today? His answer Fun or had fun today. But if you ask him do you want to take a nap he will say NO. IF its past his bedtime and he is tired and I say do you want to go to bed he will say yes, go to bed. So with seemingly concrete things he answers yes and no.
If you give him a choice he will almost always say the last choice. Do you want chicken or a hamburger. His response is Hamburger, so I will then ask the question again this time saying do you want a hamburger or chicken and he will usually reply with the origional answer which in this case was hamburger.
He has a very good vocabulary, is speaking in sentences. Does not quote movies or books or have any type of script. He loves being read to and if prompted can tell the story (books that have a sentence or less on a page) Is this echolalia? I am trying to get answers from his Speech pathologist but not getting anywhere. Not sure if she just doesn't want to answer for fear of telling me something she is not supposed to tell me, or just doesn't know. She makes a big deal when I ask about the echolalia but only spends a small portion of her session working on it. She is constantly going back to things he has mastered like colors and numbers, and I can tell he is bored with that. Any help, comments, suggestions, anything???

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter is 10. She doesn't talk but using sign language. She will sign the same thing over again and again even if you answer her.Example" Where is Daddy? We sign "At Work" She will continue to sign the same question 4 or 5 more times before going to something else. Could this be a form of echolalia?
Thank you
Shelia in NC

Anonymous said...

You wrote a post that I needed to hear. I keep going back to it to reread and I can see my son on the same path. It is nice to see where we are headed and that there is hope that it will grow. I linked you from my blog a few days ago, but decided I should let you know that you affected somebody's life in a postive way. Thank you very much! son is just beginning to modify the scripts in some situations, in case you were curious where we are at.

Anonymous said...

I'm a student who's still five or ten years away from having kids. Reading your posts, I find myself hoping that my children are as fun, challenging, and all-out inspiring as Bud seems to be.

Thank you for your writing.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I wish I'd found this when you wrote it, but even now it's a big help. My daughter has followed the first part of the progression you've described, and I hope she'll be able to continue as your son has.

What kristina chew said. She started with humming tunes or singing songs with incomprehensible lyrics; then the words became more comprehensible, with the tune and then the vowel sounds preceding the consonants. (Does Charlie have perfect pitch? I think my daughter might, or perhaps just a very good ear. You should have heard my children singing the ABC song together: she, note-perfect, but mixing up some of the 'ee' letters; he, proudly enunciating each letter, loudly off-key.)

Thanks for writing this. My online background is LiveJournal, and I don't really know the Blogger or Google blogging communities.

Purl Scout said...

you have just described my child and his slowly developing speech better than i ever could articulate. he just turned three, is obsessed with teletubbies, is finally speaking but mostly through echolaia and through midified scripts of his favorite films and shows and books, too. he hasn't been evaluated for any sort of autism yet, but has many characteristics of autistic spectum disorders. we have been in early intervention for speecha nd for feeding issues and sensory integration dysfunction, but haven't had anyone really look into my growing concerns yet. your blog has been very enlightening in helping me connect some dots. thnank you to you and to bud.

Anonymous said...

It's incredible to read this. I was thinking that my son (age 3.5 yrs) was the only one who started talking in whole scripts from cartoons. This started at age 2.5yrs. It was fascinating and very strange all at the same time.

I did exactly the same thing you did - I crawled into his world, took him by the hand, and tried to lead him out to join the rest of us. I started to join in on the scripts. He loved it. I then started altering the scripts. He loved that too. It developed new scripts and more variety in his speech.

His scripting has progressed to take out the cartoon characters and include his family members. He's also scripting less and less, usually only when he's stressed or bored. He's interacting with people more and more and talking a lot with plenty of spontaneous, original conversation. I've even heard him tell his 11 year old cousin his bedroom was "neat" and "way cool!"

I wish I had read your post a year ago. It would have given me the hope I desperately needed then. The future is not scary anymore.

PotPourri said...

I have been panicking the past few days because I learned that most likely, my son is starting this, in his communication. Now I understand it is just one of the stepping stones to normal communication for Autistic children, and if I work with him, we come out on the other side with normal language communication. I will most likely reread this blog weekly for the next few years to remind myself that we are progressing, and not just memorizing and repeating.

I'm forever grateful to you for your analogy and guidance!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. After a hard communication day with my 4 year old I found great comfort in this post which confirms my gut feeling around his echolalia. He has the Thomas obsession and is pretty fond of Teletubbies too. My ds can even crack a joke now and then!
Love to you,

Anonymous said...

I wonder what these kids' scripts would sound like if instead of watching Teletubbies and Sesame Street videos they watched Quentin Tarantino movies?
I'll bet it would be interesting.
-Mr. Black

Anonymous said...

This comment is a long time coming, as this post has given me much comfort over the past year or so. My daughter, Lola, learned to speak in much the same way. The single words were no problem, so early on there was no echolalia. But sentences... until recently just about every sentence she used was echolalic, albeit VERY appropriate. She is now starting to get some truly natural, spontaneous sentences thrown in there, but the bulk is still copied.
Lola pulls from a whole repertoire of animated movies, Noggin shows, and at home catch phrases. I figure it is my responsibility to memorize her movies so I can know what she's trying to say to me! :) She is especially drawn to the emotional scenes, and scripts them when she is very upset. (When I am very upset with her and am giving her a big timeout, she shouts lines from Lilo and Stitch - the part when Lilo and her sister are hollering at each other? It just about breaks my heart...)

Her school, of course, thinks she watches too much t.v. and would talk more normally if we turned it off. I disagree, and think that the t.v. scripts help her make sense of complicated social structures, and give her a natural way to practice language. (The only stilted, unnatural sentences she has are the ones that were drilled into her by her speech teacher.) She has that Gestalt language learning, and for that reason I never wanted to stress ABA drills that force her to learn language in pieces.

abby said...

This was a great and inspiring post. We're dealing with the same thing right now with our 3.3 year old former micropreemie who was just diagnosed as on the spectrum. I was out surfing the net looking for something like your post and I am so glad to have found it.

Hallie, like Bud and a lot of the other kids referred to in the comments, spoke very late (first words, with a lot of help, only around age 2) and most of her language consisted of labeling until recently. But over the past six to eight months, we've been hearing more sentences, but many of these are scripted or echolalic and she often repeats the last thing she has seen on TV/that is said to her. Still, like Bud, she is modifying this language and using it pretty appropriately when in communication situations. And, interestingly, she only echos that which she understands (if she is watching a show that she doesn't quite get, that is narratively too sophisticated for her to follow, she won't echo as much). I have a love/hate relationship with the TV too: she does watch way too much of it and it seems to be part of her stimming, but on the other hand, she uses it as a safe space to acquire/test out language that she later exports to more social situations.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiring post and for giving us hope!

Anonymous said...

To Bud, I say keep up the good work! To Bud's Mom, thanks for sharing what we found to be a very similar experience with our 6 year old's echolaia.

Crystal said...

Thank you! I am 21 years old. I started trying to tell people of my struggles at 8 or 9 years old. Now, just recently, the quacks…err…doctors…have finally caught on. There's still many things that I have trouble "finding the words" for and I just want to thank you because you just "gave" me the tool to explain to others how it is that I think (or don't think sometimes) and why I struggle, still, to talk.
Thank you thank you thank you!
-Crystal D.
(who wonders if she might be allowed to post a copy of this blog article, with credit given, on her own blog as an example?)

Unknown said...

Yeah! What Crystal said..... And I have not yet been diagnosed with ASD... commonality?

shannon said...

This is an awesome blog!! My son displayed the exact same echoalia. He quoted thomas movies. He is 5 now but when he was 4 one of the first breakthroughs was when his dad was saying something to him and he kept walking saying "but thomas wasn't listening to James". I was blown away!! Ever since, he has been putting the echoalia into context. As you said, into his own sentances. He still uses the scripted speech during pretend play but his communication with his words is becoming more of his own and not from thomas movies. What an amazing transformation. From what I read during his "all scripted" phase said that echoalia or "scripted speech" was a good thing and a great sign. I also used his speech to communicate with him and still do. It seems to help him make connections with his words. I happened to stumble across this blog searching for a different area in autism but I am so thankful I did. Thank you for this blog. I think we all go through the fear of the scripted speech lasting until they grow up but as I read, it's a good thing. Much better than no speech. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

What an important, beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing this, it meant a lot to me to read it, and has helped me better understand my son's current language stage. Thank you many times over :)

Audrey said...

I am so happy to have discovered your blog. My daughter, Kira, who is now 4 1/2 years old, was diagnosed this past February with high-functioning autism. We, or rather I, knew from infancy that something was different about her. Reading about Bud, specifically his journey to successful language and communication, I feel I could have written much of it about Kira. I have never come across such a detailed account that so closely resembles her situation. When I first realized that she was using echolalia with her Nick Jr. shows, I was in awe, happy that she was speaking anything besides gibberish, and even a little sad, because it further strengthened my belief that she was autistic, rather than just dealing with a speech delay. She spoke her first word at the age of 21 months, "up". It had meaning for her and us, and we took it as a positive sign that she would be jabbering non-stop soon. But it didn't happen in the way we expected. 99% of her language took on the form of echolalia, with just a small spattering of single, meaningful words, like "up". I decided to encourage her in her efforts, and I was just happy that she was speaking. So I started buying her the TY Beanie Babies for all of the shows that she recited, which were most of them. She has quite a collection now, and I love watching her play out scenes with them. She rarely allows us to interact with her though, in fact getting rather agitated when we try to sing along with one of her shows, or recite anything with her. I recall the first time she exhibited echolalia that wasn't related to one of her shows. She’d brought me a Walmart ad from the Sunday paper, and I distinctly heard her say, "Walmart. Save Money. Live Better." I was floored. For just a moment, I thought she had read it to me (at the age of 3, no less). I quickly recovered from my shock and realized that she simply recognized the logo and remembered the commercial she'd seen for it on television. I think I cried a little that day. I don't even know if it was happiness, that she was so astute to recall something so trivial, or sadness again, that she wasn't "normal". I definitely felt silly for having thought that she had actually read something at that age, with such a limited vocabulary already. I always hated myself for feeling that way about her. I knew it was made worse that my friends and family all thought she was a mildly high-strung, though typical child, but all I felt in my heart was something amiss. I spent her first year in a blur, suffering from severe sleep deprivation and PPD, mostly due to her mysteriously intense and unsubstantiated tantrums. I often lament that I’m not one of those mothers who has such wonderfully fond and loving memories of their child's first year. Now, with my second daughter, I see even more clearly what was lacking in Kira’s first years: physical expression of love/emotion. I always assumed that she just wasn't an overtly affectionate child, and well, she still isn't, and may never be. My second child showers me with hugs and kisses and shows such sweetness that it often hurts me that I feel so much love for her. I know that my autistic daughter loves me as well, that she just can't display her affection in the same manner. Those times that I feel such strong affection for my youngest, often overshadow my affection for Kira, and scares me into thinking that something is wrong with me, that I might truly love one child more than another, against my will even. I don't mean to feel that way, but there it is. Even if I know it's not true, it just feels that way sometimes. My heart swells with love and breaks with sorrow with each display of affection she showers upon me. I feel like my own emotions are ripping me apart sometimes. I don't know how I got off on a tangent there, but I won't erase it, because it feels good to get it out there. .

Audrey said...

And because I couldn't fit it all into my last, long, rambling comment, I'll add this here. Thank you, Bud's Mom, for having the kindness, patience, and luck of time to share your wonderful stories about Bud. I'm sure it makes others feel less alone in our tribulations, as I know that's how it makes me feel. It is so very nice to discover someone else with stories that you can relate to, even if it does break my heart that there are so many of us.

Jennifer said...

I am the same "Jennifer Z" that posted a comment back in 2006. This post has been a comfort and a roadmap to me. I recommend it on a regular basis, and after directing yet another parent here, I decided to update. My son did, indeed, follow this path. He is now able to use language well enough that the scripts are mostly invisible to people who don't know him. It is amazing. Thank you so much.

AidansMOM said...

So nice to know I'm not the only one with a son who's language consists mostly of scripting and echolalia. He's like a little tape recorder. He also is able to use purposeful speech like "drink" "go outside" etc. We have to encourage him to use "I want" often, but he is catching on and says "want drink" "I want drink" after positive reminding. Still has trouble with "what is your name?" However, if I say "my name is mommy....your name is....." He will respond with "Aidan." It's a slow process of improving, but I keep telling myself at least he can speak!
His therapist tells me he will eventually lose this over time. Thank you for posting about your son! It's nice to know I'm not alone on this journey.

Nicole said...

My son did the same thing. One I remember clearly was that he would say "Seat belts everyone!!!" when he wanted to go somewhere in the car LOL. He still recites movies word for word frequently but he also will speak some too now. His "bridge" between the two was to take words from 2-3 different movies & combine them into one sentence. It was his way of playing with the way words went together I think.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this amazing blog. It's only now that I realize that I taught my daughter to use echolalia. She had only a few words at 20 months of age. Now that I look back on it, that's how she learned to talk. I would watch tv with her, and as we played I would apply bits of songs or sentences from her shows. "Throw the ball, throw the ball, everybody get ready, gonna throw that ball!" I even made up little songs for each transition. "Let's go get in the big red car, the big red car, the big red car!"
She is almost 3 now, and is doing wonderfully. She gets her point across very clearly, even if it is occasionally echolalic. It makes me wonder now, how her social skills would be had I not taught her this very important step in language development.

Anonymous said...

This one is SOO good! I really wish to thank you, when my daughter was mostly echoing I found nothing on the subject except your wonderful text. I also keep a blog, but in Swedish (so likely you won't have much use of what I write). But I have linked to this post, hope that other Swedish parents will find it! Thanks again!!! Hugs!!

heath said...

And this is why I love blogs! My husband can't understand how I can care to read about other people's lives - he finds it alternately voyeuristic and uninteresting. But to me it's community. I don't know one person in my real life who knows what it feels like to have your child yell "Shrekanona!" at you during a temper tantrum, but here you, and all your commenters, are. Why "Shrek and Fiona"? Who knows why, but I knew he was telling me something was wrong! This was at two years old, and now, at 10, he can't get enough of science and nature shows, economics, and Minecraft. He's funny and sweet, understands and uses irony, and is the light of my life. And meeting all grade level expectations at school. Hurrah! Thanks for blogging.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

So, 8 or so years down the line, how's Bud doing? My son George is seven. He's always been verbal and he's always scripted. His development is much like what Bud's sounded like according to your post. Does Bud still script? Is he aware that he does it? Does he control it in certain environments?

Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

I loved this almost 9 years ago, linked to it on a blog because I thought it was among one of the most amazing things I'd ever seen regarding autism...but I'm not the only one. Morton Ann Gernsbacher brought it up in an "Annual Review of Linguistics", Linguistics being a Speech and Language Journal, Dr. Gernsbacher being both a scientist and a parent. We can do more...we can build more bridges AS YOU DID to change the narrative, so science can no longer dehumanize our children. Understanding versus fear mongering.

Ms. Norris said...

Ten years later you are still helping people with this article. I feel a little bittersweet referring people to it, because when I read this it was so exactly like my son, that's when I really knew he was autistic. We were only diagnosed last month. Now I'm getting my 18 month old evaluated. Just wanted to say thank you for this window into your experience.

bruce said...

I'm 60 yrs old and just diagnosed ASD (in Australia). I only just realised I've been echoing and scripting all my life. I have an advanced degree and I am expected to write papers in history. I noticed that others construct sentences organically, assembling and arranging words. I have to hear them in my head first, to sound out and sub-vocalise what I want to write. And I would much rather just do bullet points or quotes, I'd like to talk like a computer. "Put it in your own words" they always said. But my mind only has shapes and sounds. If I write something it has to have a shape, or be based on a series of images.

Most conversations I rehearse in advance. Or just restate other's words back at them slightly altered, if I'm just trying to sound encouraging and friendly, which takes great effort! "Great day!" "Yes it is a great day". Over here the standard greeting is "How are you?" Very difficult to deal with, they don't want a list of points!

Anonymous said...

plZ tell how bud is doing now...