Noisy Makes You Nutty (#380)

“Ev-weebuddy go!”

“Eat cooking rice.”

“I wahn zhin-gerr, I wanhn peas ann care-rotts.”
“In dee grey’ green room wuzza tell-fone, anna red ball–oon, annee pihcher uvva……cow! jumminn ovah da moon.”

That’s how Charlie has been talking lately. I do have to note, aside from the last long-ago memorized sentence from my and a few other friends’ favorite childhood book, that most of those phrases would qualify as echolalia. They are words that I have said in Charlie’s presence, and that he has repeated after a space of up to a minute.

Echolalia is not a bad thing around here. I know that it is one of those DSM-IV symptoms—“red flags”—that can scream “this child may have autism!!!!”. And it would certainly be at least a bit grating on the parental ears to hear everything one’s mom-self had said instantly repeated by one’s child.

But you see, once upon a time, Charlie could not talk at all.

Charlie could not imitate sounds at all; he barely made any sounds except for “dah” and things like screams and cries. (This was when he was one to three years old, approximately.) Today, reading Some Great Child Development Expert, I was reminded of advice that I was given when Charlie the toddler was not talking: “Just say ‘joo’ and show the child the juice and don’t give it to him unless he makes some sound, and then the next time you wait a bit longer and you make it clear he has to say something more like ‘joo,’ so not just ‘jjj’ or ‘ooo,’ and before you know it, he is saying ‘juice’!”

It was over seven years ago a pediatrician and a few others said that to me about non-verbal Charlie and—while Charlie is no longer non-verbal thanks to seven-plus years of ABA, VB, speech therapy, OT, physical exercise, a carefully healthy diet, and a few other things—I will issue the response that I wished I had back then.

Yeah right.

It’s not so easy in Autismland.

So how gratifying—not grating—it is to hear Charlie echo back what I say, just as clear as you and me. His talking has been clearer since going back to summer school after the fourth of July holiday—his teachers require language from Charlie throughout the day—-and also, I have been thinking, thanks to all the good music we have been listening to in the car.

“Noisy!” “Noisy makes you nutty!”

Said Charlie after I had commented on the sound of a neighbor’s lawnmower.

But a boy noisy with words, is something to make a lot of good noise about.

4 Responses to “Noisy Makes You Nutty (#380)”
  1. mom-nos says:

    Hooray for echolalia! Hooray for Charlie!

    I am a BIG fan of both!

  2. And we of Bud—-echolalia (if I may use a swimming pool metaphor) has been a springboard for Charlie’s speech!

  3. Rose says:

    Ben couldn’t tell you his name until he was 5. He used echolalic scripts at that time also. Sometimes they were appropriate, and you could tell he was using those lines to get a point across. Other times they were long “scripts” he had memorized from a t.v. show or earlier conversations he had heard. It sounded like conversation, but had little to do with interaction. I believe he thought he was communicating, because he sounded like others he heard.

    Slowly, the “scripts” became more appropriate, and the echolalia less and less. I think he still uses memorized scripts, but he has a repertoire of so many it’s hard to tell.

    I used to think kids who developed more typically had a sea of words, and they would just fish them out.

    Ben had to follow a track and find the right station. It was difficult and much more time consuming, and rigid. Conversations had to follow a line he could recognise, often, one he had travelled before. Often, he couldn’t find the words, or if he did, he needed a long time to formulate them.

    We still talk a lot, but most of it is bantor. The hardest thing in the world is for Ben to tell you what is going on in his mind…but when he does, you realize he even thinks differently from typical kids. His interests are different, and socialization is the least important of his thoughts.

    I hope I’m making some sense.

  4. Rose, it makes a lot of sense! And it helps a great deal as I continue to try to read the “book of Charlie.”

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