February 16, 2017
Forget What You Learned about Echolalia: The Benefits of Repetitive Speech
I remember as a little girl in the early 70’s being told to stop “om-ing” and deep-throat stimming. While the vibrations were extremely soothing to my over-taxed sensory system, it apparently did not have the same effect on other people.
Likewise, I processed my thoughts by repeating them in my conversations. In high school I was informed that I said “the same thing over and over again.” And then I was politely asked to stop.
You probably have your own stories about how your voice was silenced.
The Benefits of Echoing
When used deliberately, repetitive sounds, words or statements not only sound and feel great. They can help you rewire the brain to think differently and lower heightened physical responses of the body to shift to a more peaceful, relaxed and happy state regardless of your life circumstances.
We didn’t make that up. Scientists have studied how the brain responds to mantras and they have found some evidence that improved immune response, increased concentration and decreased worry are just a few of the many benefits of focusing your concentration on a single pointed word or phrase.
Repetitive Language is a Universal Tool
Repetitive language also known as mantras in many cultures are sounds, words or simple phrases you repeat to yourself to help deal with stressful, painful, frightening or otherwise difficult circumstances in a productive and healthy way. Mantras can also be used to help you process and internalize difficult concepts or behaviors that you would like to change.
Unfortunately, instead of helping us to refine this useful skill, people often interpret verbal repetition in autistics as a problem and discourage it because they do not understand the benefits associated with this repetitive speech. There are even still some therapists who attempt to eliminate echoing in children and refer to it as “non-functional” speech.
We are here today to encourage you to unlearn those messages about repetitive language being “non-functional” and help you get back in touch with your instinct which leads you to say words and phrases or sounds over and over again for very good – very functional reasons.
Bring Back Your Old Stims
- Think back to those times that you have made vocal stims or repeated words or phrases that you stopped doing because other people told you to.
- Now ask yourself if it makes sense to bring any of those back into your routine.
- Give them a try today.
In my case, I tried out “om-ing” and deep-throat stimming the other night when everyone else was asleep and it helped ease that low grade hypersensitive feeling on my skin and the aching in my joints and just felt really relaxing. In hindsight, if I’d been allowed to do this, it would have made my childhood a lot more tolerable. As an adult, I can made my own rules for what works for me and I challenge you to do the same.
Next time. . .
we talk about how to refine your repetitive speech skills instead of squashing them.
Until then . . .
share what repetitive sounds or words have helped you and check out VoxVisual’s post on exercise. We recommend using both exercise and verbal stimming as helpful ways to regulate the sensory system.