Echo: symptoms, causes, treatment

people with Echolalia They repeat the sounds, words, and phrases they hear, sometimes without the intention of communicating meaning. Echolalia is often a symptom of autism. But it can also be caused by a number of other issues, such as Apraxia Speech and aphasia (both are speech problems caused by abnormalities in the brain).

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If a child or adult suddenly develops echinoderma, it is best to seek medical attention. This article discusses the different causes and types of echocardiography, and some treatments to consider. It also explains how vocal echoes in children with autism can be a step in the process of learning to speak.

Echolalia can be part of normal development

Many children repeat sounds and phrases as they learn to speak. Some even imitate certain sounds. If you hear your child echoing words and phrases, but he’s also developing speech and other skills normally, you may not have any reason to worry.

Echo symptoms

People with echolocation “chant,” or repeat, words, sounds, or phrases. Sometimes repeated words have no meaning, but they are often used to communicate. Echolalia can upset listeners because it sounds strange, but in and of itself it is neither malicious nor dangerous.

Echolalia is sometimes referred to as “TV talk” because children with autism and other disorders often repeat sounds, words, and phrases from favorite TV shows — sometimes in the voices of the characters. It is also referred to as “parrot talk” because it may involve repeating words or phrases heard at school or at home.

Types of Echolalia

Types of Echolalia include:

  • Functional Echolalia It is the use of remembered words or phrases to communicate. For example, a person with functional vocalization might say “It’s time to wash your hands” to mean “It’s time for me to wash my hands.”
  • Non-functional Echolalia It is the use of sounds that are remembered without meaning. People with nonfunctional echolocation do not use sounds to communicate, although they may find the process quiet.
  • instant echo It is the repetition of sounds, words, or phrases as soon as you hear them.
  • echo delay It is the repetition of sounds, words, or phrases that are remembered long after they have been heard.
  • Dilute Echolalia It is the use of memorized phrases with some changes made by the speaker. A calming echo usually means communication. For example, the person heard “Are you going to Grandma’s house?” “Going to Grandma’s house” is given as the correct answer.
  • undiluted Echolalia It is the use of saved phrases without changes, with or without the intent of communicating.

Causes of Echolalia

Echoes can be a normal part of speech development in young children. If not, some of the more common causes of echogenicity include:

  • autism spectrum disorderA significant number of people with autism (about 75%) have acoustic echoes, either for a period of time or throughout their lives. Echolalia in autism can be a functional tool for learning to speak, or it can be a calming activity that does not lead to communicative speech.
  • aphasia: Aphasia is a brain disorder that can be caused by a stroke (blockage of blood flow or bleeding in the brain) or injury.
  • mental illness: When echo appears in adults it can be associated with the onset of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s dementia, or other similar diagnosis).

Echoes can also be caused by certain mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia (a condition with delusions, hallucinations and disorganization), and can result from stress and anxiety.

It’s important to note that Tourette’s syndrome (a disorder in making repetitive, unwanted movements or sounds) is not a cause of echolalia. That’s because the repetition of sounds in Tourette’s syndrome comes from a different cause and has different characteristics.

How to treat Echolalia

Echo, in and of itself, is not a harmful symptom. In fact, it can be a useful tool for building expressive language, especially in autism. It can also be a way for some people to reduce their anxiety by vocalizing. But acoustic echoes can be part of a serious disorder. It can also be disruptive in the classroom or community setting.

When acoustic echo is treated, the therapy may have different purposes. for example:

  • A speech therapist may work with a person with aphasia to restore functional speech or to develop speech in young children.
  • A speech therapist may work with a child with autism by using words and audio phrases to build meaningful communication and even back-and-forth conversation. A play therapist or occupational therapist may also be helpful.
  • When vocal echoes are not functional and bothersome, a behavioral therapist may work with the person to reduce vocalization. When this happens, they may offer alternative (quieter) ways for the person to calm themselves.
  • Echocardiography is rarely treated with medication unless it is due to stress and anxiety. When this is the case, it can be treated with anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. However, in most cases, echolalia is treated by a speech therapist who works with the person to build expressive language.

Are there tests to diagnose the cause of echo?

It is not always necessary to diagnose the cause of acoustic echoes because it is usually associated with an already known problem, such as autism or aphasia. However, health care providers will usually want to perform a physical exam if it occurs suddenly. They may also want to test:

  • Head or brain injury, using scanning devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans
  • Stroke, using neurological examinations as well as MRI or CT scans
  • Mental illness using a variety of behavioral and psychological assessments
  • Dementia using neurological examinations and behavioral, psychological, and memory assessments

When to see a health care provider

If the echo occurs in a normally developing child and does not appear to impede the child’s speech development, there is no need to seek a health care provider. However, you may want to consult your pediatrician to confirm your assessment that your child is developing normally.

If vocal echo is a symptom of a developmental disorder or a known speech disorder, it is important to include speech therapy in the person’s treatment plan.

If the echo sound suddenly appears, seek medical advice immediately. It can result from a head injury or stroke and must be treated immediately.

If echogenicity begins in older childhood or adulthood, even without a stroke or injury, it is important to seek treatment. It could be the result of mental illness or emerging dementia.


Echolalia is usually a symptom of autism or a speech disorder in childhood. It may be a starting point for functional talk, or it may be a self-soothing activity. Echo in children is usually treated by a speech or behavior therapist. When echocardiography occurs suddenly in adults, it may be the result of an injury, stroke, dementia, or mental illness and should be examined immediately.

Word from Verywell

Echolalia is not always a problem, it can be a step forward for a late child. However, it can also be a symptom of a serious disorder. If you have concerns about acoustic echo, especially if it occurs suddenly, it is a good idea to consult a health care provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Echolalia common in autism?

    Echolalia is very common in autism. In fact, it may be present in up to 75% of people on the autism spectrum. Echolalia in autism may be an important step toward functional speech. It may also be a way to self-sooth. In either case, speech or behavioral therapy may help direct or reduce the echo.

  • Is echo common in ADHD?

    Echo sound occurs in some people with ADHD. While children with autism may use echo as a tool for communication, children with ADHD often use it to calm themselves.

  • Can Adults Develop Echolalia?

    Yes, adults can get echocardiograms. While most children with echolalia have autism or other developmental problems, adults who develop echolalia are more likely to have it as a result of a stroke, brain injury, mental illness, or some form of dementia.

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