What is echolalia?


If we divide the word echolalia into parts, we have echo that is a repetitive vague sound and lalia that refers to speech or talk, in this way, by uniting both parts we have as a result echolalia , which is nothing more than a neurolinguistic disorder that it affects children and adults alike, although in different ways.


What is echolalia?

It is considered a language disorder, in which the subject who is affected by it simultaneously and unconsciously repeats the words, phrases or paragraphs that other people in their environment express or may in the same way repeat words from the television or radio, making this a constant habit, in the form of an echo, to that it owes its name.



This disorder is defined as: The constant repetition, by the affected subject , of words or phrases that he has heard previously; either immediately after listening to them, which would be classified as immediate echolalia , or after a time has elapsed after hearing the term or word, which can go from seconds or minutes later, to years, the latter being known as delayed echolalia or, in all delayed echolalia case.


Characteristics of echolalia

The main characteristics of echolalia are:

  • Constant imitation of words or phrases.
  • Language problems.
  • Neurological problems
  • Repetition in the form of an echo.


  • Immediate echolalia: It is the most common type of echolalia in those who suffer from it, which is based on hearing a word or phrase and immediately the subject plays it over and over again, this until he prefers another term to use.
  • Delayed or delayed echolalia: This happens when the word or phrase is heard, however, the subject does not reproduce it immediately , but waits a few seconds or minutes to say it, when the repetition appears after 30 seconds, it is already considered delayed echolalia , however, each person is presented in various ways, therefore, it does not have a predetermined time. A patient suffering from delayed echolalia can not only take seconds or minutes to say that word, they can wait weeks and even months to repeat it.

How echolalia occurs in children and adults

It is fully understood that human beings learn by imitation, both behavior and language are learned and developed through this method, however, when a child has already passed the imitation stage and continues to have this type of behavior, it should be carried out a specialist in the area to evaluate it and diagnose if it is outside or within the norm for the child.

Since echolalia  is a disorder that cannot be cured, but if it decreases, the relatives of those affected must learn to communicate with them, in the case of children who suffer from it, it is clearly more complicated, because it can be offered to the infant Something to eat and he will repeat the word, and if the representative does not know about his situation, he will think that he wants to eat what was previously offered. These are some common problems that occur when having a family member with this condition.

They can be constantly taken to a speech therapist, so that the disorder is shaped and diminished , it will not disappear , it will gradually decrease and will be controllable, although in adults the disorder is more bearable, it is just as complex to understand them.

For this reason, family members are recommended to be patient and not aggressively attack them, since this is not a voluntary disorder , people who suffer from it spontaneously repeat words or phrases, without intention to annoy or be scolded by said behavior; In addition to this, over time the disorder, even if it is treated, evolves and develops, to the point that the affected subject not only repeats the phrase, but repeats the tone with which the phrase was said to perfection and if the person who said the word I use some physical gesture, it is possible that I also imitate it.


Echolalia  can be developed or triggered by many things, it may be congenital or biochemical, and that the subject has a deficit that makes it difficult for them to understand language , in children it is generally presumed to be a manifestation of the following disorders :

  • Autistic spectrum.
  • Tourette syndrome.

In the event that a child suffers from this disorder, the corresponding evaluations are made to rule out the existence of the aforementioned disorders.

In adults who were not born with the disorder, it is related to brain damage associating more with the frontal lobe , since this is in charge of the personality.

Symptoms of echolalia

Echolalia can be easily detected since its symptoms are numerous, these are:

  • Constant and unconscious repetition of words.
  • Playback with the same tone, including gestures.
  • Badly structured sentences.
  • Difficulty of understanding in the language area.
  • Distortion of the voice, the subject mutates his tone, does not speak as he commonly does.
  • Answers out of context.
  • Stuttering.
  • Social shyness.


Usually the diagnosis of this disorder is simple, since its characteristics and symptoms are highly relevant, complications occur when echolalia is the effect that produces an alternate or associated disorder , as in children it could be Tourette’s syndrome and in children. adults a dementia or schizophrenia.

However, reps are usually aware of this disorder quickly.


Currently, there is no viable cure for echolalia, however, a very effective way to reduce its symptoms is by taking the affected person to speech therapy, clearly the disorder will not disappear , but at least it will be controlled in a certain way, achieving that the life of the affected is more bearable and enjoyable.


  • For parents, an exercise they should practice is to simplify the language they use, as this will help the child to develop in the field of communication.
  • Try to capture the attention of those who suffer from this, as they are easily distractible.
  • Increase vocabulary by including new concepts in everyday language, so that your vocabulary develops gradually.
  • Segmenting the messages for each word that is spoken is also important.

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