Autistic children and verbal repeats

Autistic children and verbal repeats

My child has preferred topics which he loves to talk about–a lot!

He’ll talk about them again and again. They are obsessions and they do segue into verbal repeats.

What is it about autistic children and verbal repeats?

It happens like this, a preferred subject is discussed, usually begun by my child. He talks a preferred topic which includes as many angles on that topic as possible.

My son loves questions, and he will ask a ton about a topic that he loves. He will also remember specific aspects of his preferred topics.

The next day, or even days or weeks later, he’ll bring up the exact same conversation.

He’ll focus on parts of the original topic he had already zeroed in on previously. This focus will be his preferred topic of the preferred conversation, if you will.

How does it work?

Usually, he asks questions in a way that sounds like he doesn’t already know the answer, even though he knows the answer.

Typically, I will throw that back at him.

“I know you know this already. So, why do you think you need to say it again?”

He usually answers, “I don’t know.”

I remind him we have already discussed this topic in detail (perhaps more than once).

I’ll also remind him that he’s spending too much time discussing the same thing over and over.

My child is very verbal and has developing reasoning skills.

He questions us often on a variety of topics. He’s very capable of compromise. He also has a talent for negotiation (a good thing and a bad thing, in my opinion). 

I love talking to my child. I know he’ll eventually reason things out in his own way and in his own time.

The conversations we have, along with all the reminders, help him to move beyond what is getting him “stuck.”

His verbal repeats will lesson over time. And, eventually, he’ll feel confident that he’s already discussed a topic.

He won’t have to use repeats.

Additionally, there’s echolalia.

Some kids have echolalia.

Echolalia is the “automatic repetition of vocalizations made by another person.” (Wikipedia).

I don’t know for sure if the type of verbal repeats I described above are a form of echolalia or not. I do not that my child does not do strict echolalia as it’s defined. 

He does not immediately repeat everything he’s heard. But, he does repeat his own preferred topics, especially questions that he liked the first time around.

It’s comforting for him to repeat something, especially when he already knows the answer.

Sometimes, he’ll even question me to test to see if I remember some specific details that he’d worked so hard to memorize, like it’s some kind of game.

If it goes on too long, I’ll remind him that he’s repeating himself. I have no problems reminding him of things. It takes practice for our kids. And, we’re there to help them.

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