No AccessJournal of Speech and Hearing DisordersResearch Article1 Aug 1981

The Functions of Immediate Echolalia in Autistic Children

    This research was intended to discover how immediate echolalia functioned for autistic children in interactions with familiar adults. Four echolalic children were videotaped at school and at home, in both group and dyadic interactions in natural situations such as lunchtime, family activities, and play activities in school. After conducting a multilevel analysis (of over 1,000 utterances) of verbal and nonverbal factors, response latency, and intonation, it was discovered that immediate echolalia is far more than a meaningless behavior, as has been previously reported. Seven functional categories of echolalia were discovered and are discussed in reference to behavioral and linguistic features of each category. It is argued that researchers who propose intervention programs of echo-abatement may be overlooking the important communicative and cognitive functions echolalia may serve for the autistic child.

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