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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Echolalia is the repetition of vocalizations made by another person. Echolalia is present in autism, Tourette syndrome, developmental disability, schizophrenia and, occasionally, other forms of psychopathology. When done involuntarily, it is considered a tic.

The word "echolalia" is derived from the Greek language|Greek]] ἠχώ meaning echo or "to repeat",[1] and λαλιά (laliá) meaning "babbling, meaningless talk"[2] (of onomatopoeic origin from the verb λαλείν (laleín) meaning "to talk").

Immediate echolalia

Immediate echolalia is when a word or phrase is immediately repeated. In some autistic and Asperger's cases it may be a method of buying time to help process language. In an instance a child with autism is asked, "Do you want dinner?" The child echoes back "Do you want dinner?" followed by a pause and then a response, "Yes. What's for dinner?"[3]

Delayed echolalia

Delayed echolalia has been defined as the "echoing of a phrase after some delay or lapse of time". Persons with autism who repeat TV commercials, favorite movie scripts, or parental reprimands are examples used in describing this phenomenon. It may or may not be communicative.

This condition appears to tap into long-term auditory memory, and for this reason, may be a different phenomenon from immediate echolalia. As it can involve the recitation of entire scripts, delayed echolalia is often mistaken as evidence for higher-than-average intellect.


  1. Template:El icon Triantafyllidis Online Dictionary, ηχώ, Retrieved on 2007-06-11
  2. Template:El icon Triantafyllidis Online Dictionary, λαλιά, Retrieved on 2007-06-11
  3. Bashe, P. R. The OASIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome; Advice, Support, Insight, and Inspiration. Crown Publishers, 2001, p. 22.

Further reading

Simon N (1975). "Echolalic speech in childhood autism. Consideration of possible underlying loci of brain damage". Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 32 (11): 1439–46. PMID 812450.

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