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Echolalia

Echolalia – meaning to repeat words and phrases, often associated with autism.

One of our young people has less than 30 words and phrases that he uses. He also communicates with squeaks and hand gestures.

What I have started to notice is that he repeats words and phrases according to how he has heard them. Recently he has started to say Och – and I have no doubt that this comes form one of our support assistants, who will jolly him long with an ‘Och’ when he doesn’t want to do something.

We all adapt our dialect and accent according to the company we share. As a child growing up on the West Coast of Scotland, near the Faslane Naval Base, it was assumed that because I came from an English family we would have an association with the Royal Navy. Don’t misunderstand my best friends’s dad was a Captain of a submarine so we were in good company, but Dad would get so frustrated at the assumption. When exclaiming this to other Naval friends of ours, he was told that he should grow his hair a little. He allowed his hair to grow just over his ears, and he had lovely soft curls which gave the impression of his hair being a bit longer. As soon as he did this, he was no longer asked what he did in the Navy but was asked about what he did.

I, too, longed to fit in with my friends at school and so adopted a Scottish accent.I would leave home with a ‘Home Counties’ accent – largely unidentifiable, but probably more London that anything and arrive on the bus with a broad Scottish accent.

I have been trying for nearly 45years to get rid of my English accent, but to no avail. When I am in England with English friends I am asked if I am Scottish or Irish or Australian, because I have a  ‘twang’ or Scottish lilt. In Scotland I’m just English, but use words and phrases that are very much Scottish based.

It is time for me to hit the road and get through to see T in Glasgow. I love the Glaswegian accent, and the fact that within minutes you know someone’s life story. Think we’ll be going for a curry.

Echolalia – a poem

How to show you how to explain

my words and phrases are in vain.

Listen to my voice and hear what I say

then have a go – do it your way.

I will follow, coax and cajole

Look at us now, we’re on a roll:

laughing and pointing and working it out

go quietly, so carefully, we don’t need to shout.

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