Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

January 27, 2016

Speech therapist, Kristin Lyman offers help to children with echolalia


Kristin Lyman MA CCC-SLP is a speech therapist at Child and Family Development and works at our Pineville office.  She works with several children who are echolalic.  Recently, she discovered a helpful online resource call Teach Me To Talk, including an article that provides a simple definition and some strategies to support these kids.  

Echolalia is the repeating or ‚Äúechoing‚Äù what another person has said. Children who are echolalic imitate what they have heard someone say in everyday life, lines they‚Äôve 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.   

Kristin emphasizes these strategies for parents and caregivers: 

  • Pay attention to your child’s echolalia to determine what skills he is having difficulty with comprehension  For example, if your child is repeating questions that you ask (child asks ‘Do you want to go outside?’ when he wants to go outside, the child is lacking the ability to initiate requests). 
  • Model the types of phrases or sentences that your child would appropriately say in your daily routines  and keep language simple.  A child who is echolalic is having difficulty understanding and processing individual words.  By keeping your statements short and sweet, this decreases the demand on the child and allows them a better opportunity to understand and engage with you. 
  • Never underestimate the power of visuals.  This article doesn’t put much emphasis on this, but giving visual support with real-life objects or pictures when working on making requests is essential.  This helps the child understand what you are asking and  it gives him the opportunity to use nonverbal communication (pointing, reaching).  Then, you know what they want and model how to make a verbal request (I want the ball, Ball please, etc.).   If you determine what your child wants, you can model the verbal request, reward the child for a verbal request and increase his motivation to request this way next time. 

Read full online post for more information and examples here.       

All of our speech therapists are trained to help kids and teens improve expressive and receptive language skills in individual and group sessions.