Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Is There an Echo in Here?" "No Silly, That's Echolalia!"

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...



The Maven said...

Oh wow... That takes me back. I remember sitting at the table with Austin while he ate his lunch. It was just he and I, and I asked him, "Is that good Austin?" He replied with "Is that good, Austin?" He had a very extensive vocabulary, but that didn't seem right to me - especially since he did it often. I am glad you had it checked out - and even happier it stopped!

Defensive? Please meet Maven, circa 1999. Intrepid was three, and people were telling me flat out that his behaviour wasn't normal. I refused to listen to them - any of them - because my child was perfect in my eyes. And he still is perfect, but he also happens to have a diagnosis that could have been found much sooner if I hadn't been so stubborn. That's why I said something to you. I didn't want you to look back and say "why didn't anyone say anything?" Because heck, people said something to me and I STILL ignored it for a long time! *sigh* :P

Mommie That Gets It said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mommie That Gets It said...

Thanks Mav! Yes, it seems so long ago, hard to believe. I am happy too, not to mention Austin! :)

Well, we know why I was so defensive. I did have someone making assumptions about Austin, you know who I mean. So of course, like you were with Intrepid, I was defensive. It was a hard telephone call to make when I had to tell her she was right and so were you Mav! Thanks for speaking out! Don't worry Mav, someone wise told me that sometimes were are not ready for the truth, then the day comes when we are ... your a GREAT Momma! :) HUGS! OX

Mommie That Gets It said...

P.S. Mav, I had to delete my own comment because I could not spell "Intrepid"! LOL! ;)