It's time warp time!
It seems like forever but it is not ... it is only about 3 years ago that Austin would repeat what you said to him. Especially questions and things that he just couldn't understand such as complex sentences or directions. If you asked him if he wanted "orange juice or milk", he would reply "milk". Switch the order around and he would say "orange juice". This happened a lot, unless he was really adamant about having milk. He could also recite parts of television shows or entire commercials by heart ... over and over. I used to do it when I was little, so what's the harm, right? Wrong!
Austin repeating back was not something I thought too much about since the dictionary definition of echolalia is quite harmless, basically it says children repeat what is heard as they are developing, to learn. Well, the psychiatric definition is the opposite and there was nothing comforting in that definition the first time I read it, but I am getting ahead of myself a little.
One day, the gracious and lovely Miss Maven happened to be over with her wonderful boys. They were playing and when I said something to Austin he would repeat the whole sentence or question. I had just given birth to Kaleigh so Austin was just about to turn 3. Maven heard this go on and said something like the following (not verbatim but close) "You should watch that. I have a friend with autistic children that repeat, it is called echolalia." I replied, "Austin is NOT autistic Maven!" (Defensive much? Uhhh, YES!) I don't think that Maven was trying to imply he was but just wanted me to have it checked and I did.
I took Austin to the doctor. He checked him and said, "I think it is just a mild delay". I had expressed before that I did not think Austin spoke in a typical 2-year-old manner but he had such a large vocabulary, it was easily dismissed, not this time. My doctor, who is AMAZING by the way, looked at my face. He told me he knows that look and said, "Okay, let's send him to CHEO (that's the children's hospital here) to be checked, although I think he will be fine". "Also, be warned, if they find a speech development issue, he could be screened for other developmental problems..." I knew what he meant ... I went ahead with it anyway.
Austin was put on a list and we got a call a year later. Guess what? The echolalia stopped! By the time he was 4, he rarely repeated at all. He had trouble answering the some of the W questions and asking him "how" wasn't easy but I was relieved. I cancelled his appointment with CHEO and thought that the days of echoing were behind Austin. The man I spoke to on the phone was very happy for Austin but said, just in case, if there is something else that pops up when he starts school, they will keep him on a list. This would ensure he could get an appointment right away ... I never thought I would be calling him back, but I did ... that, my friends, is a hard story to tell ... stay tuned...