Echolalia: Definition, Types, Causes

Echolalia is the act of repeating another person’s words, either right away or later. Although echolalia is a distinct stage of language development, it usually ends by the time a child is three years old and has more advanced language abilities. 

Echolalia is a typical sign of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and also Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, it can also occur in non-autistic individuals. Stimming techniques are self-stimulating actions referred to as “stimming.” They typically involve repetitive motions or noises. Some people with ADHD also employ echolalia as a stimming technique to self-soothe or stimulate themselves.

Read More: ADHD in children: Myths And Facts.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not include echolalia in its diagnostic criteria for ADHD because it is not a typical symptom. But still, psychologists consider it a symptom so let us know what it is. 

Echolalia: What Is It?

Echolalia is the term used to describe repeating another person’s words. It is a recurring action that frequently seems pointless but is thought to serve several goals. It is not a one-off incident or the occasionally repeating or quoting someone to make a point, for clarification, or some other cause.

According to NCBI, echolalia is frequently linked to autism (roughly 75% of autistic children exhibit echolalia symptoms). This symptom is also present in people with ADHD.

Types Of Echolalia

There are various categories for echolalia. It is distinguished by time frame, for example:

  • Immediate echolalia: The immediate or quick repetition of phrases or words.
  • Delayed echolalia: The repetition of phrases or words after a long time.

It is distinguished by purpose, for example:

  • Functional echolalia: used to connect or communicate with others.
  • Noninteractive echolalia: used chiefly for one’s advantage or the convenience and rarely as a tool of interpersonal communication.

According to the National Centre Of Biotechnology Infomation, Echolalia can be reduced, which suggests that when someone repeats anything, they make a minor adjustment to the words.

Echolalia: Symptoms and Causes 

According to National Institute On Deafness and Other Communication Disorder, Echolalia frequently may arise when a person lacks or doesn’t use the standard language for communication. This may result from an ASD diagnosis or a linguistic delay.

Examples comprise:

  • When asked, “what did you have for supper?” a person can respond, “what did you have for dinner,” and then wait for someone to ask something more specific. Alternatively, they might repeat something spoken to them during the meal, such as “don’t slurp your pasta.”
  • The person may ask, “do you want juice?” to suggest that they would like juice or are thirsty, or they may sing the jingle of a product to indicate it is what they would like for lunch.
  • Even though it doesn’t correspond to the behavior, a youngster may tell another child, “we don’t take our friend’s toys,” when the other child is doing something they don’t like. They are reiterating a word or phrase they have heard to express criticism of a particular action. If they want to control their behavior, they could repeat it themselves.

Beyond these specific instances, echolalia can appear in various ways. Still, it typically occurs as a means of interpersonal communication, information retention, or self-regulation.

Read More: What Are The Causes Of Poor Mental Health.


Don’t be alarmed if you notice your toddler repeating what you or other people say. This is a normal phase in the evolution of language.

Consult your doctor if your kid is still often repeating words and phrases, especially if they are not expressing themselves effectively or in ways suitable for their age. There are several potential causes for echolalia in children when it does not develop normally. If necessary, your healthcare professional can assist with an examination and guide you toward the appropriate course of action.

As echolalia is a sign of ADHD, so check first whether you have ADHD or not. Take the ADHD test now! To do so, click here

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