Autism

Why children with autism repeat phrases or sounds involuntarily


Despite the diversity of its clinical characteristics, within the autism spectrum there are relatively constant elements in many of the people diagnosed with the condition of autism, mainly in the aspects of social interaction, flexibility - imagination, repetitive movements or sounds. The most frequent reason for consultation is the one related to Language and Communication and the fact that why children with autism repeat phrases or sounds involuntarily, something known as echolalia. We will talk about all this in the next post.

Autism is currently called (by the main International Classification systems such as DSM-V and ICD-11) Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When we see the detail that the 'spectral' terminology carries, it suggests that this condition has a wide diversity in its clinical presentations given by levels of functioning.

The Language and Communication approach is based on a distinctive element that is the absence or presence of speech (oral expressive language). This time we will address one of the modes of presentation of the condition, which is when the child "speaks".

When we are faced with the child with autism who speaks, one of the characteristics that may be present is echolalia. This clinical manifestation consists of imitating and repeating words, phrases or sounds, in an unconscious-involuntary way, of something heard through a conversation, an order or comment when they are addressed to him or her; or simply through a video on You Tube or on television. They usually copy it from their favorite shows or the expressions of close relatives.

However, when we go back to that early childhood, the one in which we learn to speak, human beings usually acquire their language through imitation, therefore, if a boy or girl between 12 months and 2 years repeats some words or phrases in appropriate contexts, that is, that word or phrase is according to what they are talking about or what that boy or girl consistently wants to express, is considered normal. But if it is already 2 and a half years old or more and this repetition occurs relatively frequently and / or that word or phrase does not fit the socio-environmental context raised, it is a cause for alarm.

An element that usually draws attention in autism is that, generally when they have echolalia, they can even copy the vocal inflections of the emitter, that is, they copy up to the pronunciation (tone, timbre and intensity of the emitter's voice) if they Try a movie clip, comic book, or commercial to imitate as closely as possible.

The best-known classification of echolalia is immediate (soon after hearing it) or delayed (time later). However, it is important to note that repeating phrases and words in older children (say 3 years and older) can be done in the form of 'mockery', but you can already see that it is voluntary.

The important thing is that if the echolalia persists and is not decreasing, a specialist should be consulted to make a differential diagnosis, since the presence of this clinical sign ONLY is not a sufficient criterion to speak of autism. Remember that to reach this clinical diagnosis, a series of characteristics observed and questioned by a professional in the area must be gathered.

The causes of echolalia They have not yet been fully identified, there are many conjectures in this regard and this is the same that happens in all the hypotheses raised around the ASD, however, the variables to consider when we are talking about language are many, because this is a superior mental function that requires multiple neural networks distributed throughout the brain for its proper functioning. If something interferes with the proper connection of neurons, we will see something reflected in speech.

Saying that echolalia has no cure is irresponsibleTherefore, all possible triggers should be evaluated not only in the voice system, but in other systems such as gastrointestinal, metabolic, immune, etc., for their correct approach; This is why the specialized doctor (with knowledge of the condition) does this research and works hand in hand with the speech therapist in order to obtain the best results.

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