Sunday, September 9, 2012

“Stop copying me!”

Echolalia, the parrot that you didn’t buy. There once was a time when I wondered what this echolalia was. I heard about children with autism doing this, but I could never get a good understanding of what it was exactly. I mean, I know what an echo is, but what does it mean to exhibit echolalia? Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. At around 2 ½ years old, my darling Marty began to “copy” phrases that he’d hear his brother say. At first it was a seemingly appropriate, “that’s awesome,” after a winning game play or after seeing a cool car speed down the road. Then, the “copying” became more frequent, sometimes followed by laughter. My oldest son became so furious about his little brother’s new habit that he would often punch, kick, or slap little Marty to get him to stop repeating. In one occasion, I witnessed my oldest with his friends enjoying a favorite cartoon sharing some of their favorite parts; my oldest says something like, “man that was so cool when so-and-so did that ninja kick; I’m gonna try that.” Marty – seconds after his brother speaks, “I’m gonna try that.” Giggle, giggle. The next instant Marty was on the floor crying, his brother took his echoing as mocking; I guess my oldest was embarrassed by this or simply tired of Marty’s relentless repeating of the words he had just spoken. After I reprimanded my oldest child, I comforted Marty and explained to him why it wasn’t nice to copy his brother. I doubt if he understood me, but he must have understood the consequences of echoing a 7 year old in front of his friends because he doesn’t copy his brother anymore. However, he does say things under his breath…perhaps he is echoing in silence. He talks to himself as well. He can carry a full blown conversation with himself whilst sitting right next to you. One day, I answered him thinking that he was talking to me, he remarked sharply, “I am talking to myself.” And commenced to laugh and gesture. Strange sight? yes, it is. Since I have become aware of echolalia in my youngest, I often notice it in my children’s father. Yes, he is a grown man that I suspect has aspergers. I will discipline the children; provide a direction or consequence and the daddy parrot will repeat the exact phrase in the same tone of voice. Kinda uncanny, but I am used to it. He even does this with my mom. She takes offense to it, believing he is undermining her while she corrects the kids. I assure her, take it as a compliment. It means that he likes what you just said.

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