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Echolalia is the repetition or echoing of verbal utterances made by another person. It is present in up to 75% of those diagnosed with autism, but it is also present in Tourette Syndrome, developmental disability, schizophrenia and, occasionally, other forms of psychopathology.
The word "Echolalia" is derived from the Greek "Echo", meaning "to repeat", and "lalia", meaning "a speaking," from lalein "to speak, prattle," of onomatopoeic origin.
Types of Echolalia
Immediate echolalia appears to tap into the person's short-term memory for auditory input. This is defined as the repetition of a word or phrase just spoken by another person. Knowing the person very well would appear to be the key to understanding their specific intentions.
Delayed echolalia has been defined as the "echoing of a phrase after some delay or lapse of time". Persons with autism who repeat TV commercials, favorite movie scripts, or parental reprimands come to mind when describing this phenomenon. It may or may not be communicative.
This condition appears to tap into long-term auditory memory, and for this reason, may be a different phenomenon from immediate echolalia. As it can involve the recitation of entire scripts, delayed echolalia is often mistaken as evidence for a near-genius intellect.