Echolalia: Symptoms and Treatment

Echolalia is a disorder of speech behavior, in which a person repeats phrases and individual words heard somewhere or said by someone. This type of behavior is characteristic of small children, so they can often observe signs of natural echolalia, which is part of their cognitive activity. For example, babies can repeat words for parents aged 6 to 12 months, and this behavior is normal. Also at an older age (3-4 years), children are taught communicative skills by repeating the words of the interlocutor, and this is also not a pathology.

Pathological can be called a condition in which the child is delayed mental development against the background of pronounced echolalia. In addition, speech disorder in adults also can not be the norm — echolalia in adulthood is always a sign of pathology.


To date, experts have thoroughly studied the causes of this pathology. Most often, the appearance of the symptoms of the disease is associated with the defeat of the frontal lobes of the brain. Therefore, if a child or an adult has other symptoms, such as forgetfulness, impaired coordination, hallucinations, etc., you should immediately contact the doctor for an adequate treatment.

If brain damage is not established, we can talk about other reasons for the development of echolalia, such as:

  • autism
  • Tourette’s syndrome;
  • schizophrenia
  • Imbecility.

Any of these pathologies can be detected in childhood, therefore, when talking about echolalia in adults, most often it is a question of not diagnosed mental pathology in childhood.


The disease can manifest itself in two ways. Echolalia can be:

  1. Immediate;
  2. Deferred.

Immediate is characterized by the fact that a sick child immediately after pronouncing his interlocutor a certain phrase or word, repeats it exactly. Or he can repeat phrases and words heard on the radio or television.

This kind of echolalia is characteristic of small children and often has a physiological character. If we are talking about the pathological state, then this behavior is an opportunity for a person to fill in the gaps in the speech, until he realizes what the interlocutor said.

Delayed echolalia — the repetition of certain sentences and words heard somewhere after some time, for example, 10 minutes, an hour, a day, etc.

Such behavior is compensatory in nature and can be characterized by such functions as:

  • Self-stimulation function, in which a person tries to reproduce their feelings and emotions experienced in the past
  • Mood transfer function — this way a person tries to communicate with others (which is often characteristic of children and adults with autism), showing them not the word but its emotional load
  • the function of ordering information, when by means of separate phrases and words heard for a day, a person recalls past events and systematizes them in his head.

Diagnosis and treatment

Treatment of echolalia does not require the use of drugs, because this pathology is inherently a mental disorder, for the correction of which has not yet developed the appropriate medication. At the same time, it is easily amenable to psychological correction, so the first thing that should be done by parents who have noticed signs of echolalia in the child, or adults with symptoms of pathology — will turn to a good psychotherapist or psychoneurologist.

If it is a question of natural echolalia, then its symptoms can disappear on their own with the passage of time — when the child finds other ways of self-expression. Nevertheless, parents need to adhere to some important recommendations. Correction of the child’s behavior forces parents:

  1. talking with your child is always easy
  2. normalize the atmosphere in the family (avoid quarrels and screaming)
  3. ask the kid leading questions that require a clear answer «yes» or «no»
  4. protect your children from stress.

When it comes to the pathological condition, a thorough examination of the patient for the detection of mental disorders is required. And here with the purpose of correction of these disorders underlying echolalia, the doctor may be prescribed certain psychostimulants, tranquilizers or neuroleptics.