Responding to the Student in Crisis: Echolalia as a Clue to Behavior

By Dr. Camille Brandt

This issue of NASET’s Autism Spectrum Disorder series was written by Dr. Camille Brandt. Working with children identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) presents many wonderful opportunities as well as puzzles to solve for the curious early education teacher. Young children both with and without ASD learn words and phrases by listening to adults, family members, and peers around them as well as from sources including music, television, and other sources of language within their environment.  It is not uncommon for children to quickly absorb and imitate phrases witnessed in moments of great excitement and strong emotion.  Once repeated and reinforced, these may become part of the child’s repertoire.  For the child impacted by autism, some words and phrases take on second meanings, changing from simple nouns and verbs to complex verbal representations of deeper emotions, fears, wants, and needs.

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