One of my enduring “analytical” interests is how language is used to construct social reality.
I have been looking into how “Autism, the Epidemic” is being publically constructed and promoted.
A pattern is obvious: take any human behavior (even if it’s widespread and previously acknowledged as within the normal range for humans – or even essential to human development) and redefine it as a symptom of pathology. Gather together a list of these various symptoms, which are presented as evidence that something is wrong with your child; “symptoms” for which the criteria are vague and mostly subjective and repetitive, but with no factual basis for a coherent connection between them: add these to a few “legitimate” difficulties, such as learning disabilities, motor difficulties, behavior problems, for which the criteria are also vague and mostly subjective and repetitive – perhaps “annoying” is the common denominator – Collect these together and present them as a “newly discovered disorder”. Legitimize it by voting it into the latest version of the DSM. (Who decides what goes into the DSM?)
This act of construction may be all that connects the supposed symptoms; that is, there is no objective basis for the existence of a common or causal link except for the “naming” of a new disorder. The disorder has been “created” by repurposing existing symptoms from other disorders to expand the pool of official pathologies, which creates the illusion of something real and new is going on: The Autism epidemic.
Once the disorder is promoted by “studies” – many of which are nothing more than a favorably reinterpreted review of former studies, selected and manipulated into “proving” a pre-decided outcome. Studies which may have no value; which may be spurious, phony, published with no peer review (as if that may mean anything anymore) and funded by corporate interests and institutions, in order to get the “results” that they have paid for. The result is that Autism is a “collage” of mysterious manifestations; diagnosis are meaningless opinions with no medical basis; a mish-mash controlled by the Autism industry and insurance companies. The rush to diagnosis is driven by media “fads” and advertising. Fear sweeps the public and drives profits.
Typical of this process is the expansion of a behavior or trait from its original narrow and restricted definition (which originated as a medical or descriptive usage) into the realm of psychosocial application; this is often justified by the supposed “consequences” of the condition – depression, anxiety and interference in any and all life activities, including for Autistic disorders, a child merely being a social embarrassment. Tellingly, these are generic labels for “unsolvable” emotion or mood changes that curiously, require medication to mask, diminish or subdue the “symptoms” of an invented disorder or mental illness. Nice trick!
Echolalia provides a clear example of the perversion of “neutral or normal” process into a “prime” symptom of pathology in the messy, incoherent collage that is promoted as Autism – the big scary threat to American families.
From http://www.healthline.com – a popular type of website purporting to provide the “consumer” with information about health topics.
People with echolalia repeat noises and phrases that they hear. (Here comes the unsupported conclusion that “shifts the defect” into the psycho-social realm) – They may not be able to communicate effectively because they struggle to express their own thoughts. (Or if they are Americans, they may simply not have any original thoughts.) For example, someone with echolalia might only be able to repeat a question rather than answer it. In many cases, echolalia is a (failed or inadequate) attempt to communicate, learn language, or practice language. (Again, the set up of “echolalia” as a deep psycho-social flaw, that “proves” a brain problem exists.)
This is an outrageous escalation of “echolalia” – a behavior that is common in most children, as “enough to prove” a disorder exists.
Repetitive speech is an extremely common part of language development, and is commonly seen in young toddlers who are learning to communicate. By the age of 2, most children will start mixing in their own utterances along with repetitions of what they hear. By age 3, most children’s echolalia will be minimal at most. (Prove that! Echolalia is RAMPANT in American pop-culture as the default communication style and dominates social interaction: repeated catch phrases, memes, and quotes copied over, and over, ad nauseum, especially in attacking and degrading the “status” of other humans! Emojis? )
It’s common for children with autism or developmental delays to have echolalia further into childhood (echolia is now posited as a “thing” that one “has” instead of being a specific, changeable or temporary behavior), especially if they’re experiencing delayed speech development. Identifying why and how your child is using echolalia (has it been established that echolalia is intentional?) will help you develop a treatment plan for it. (The authors are already asserting after three paragraphs into the article that your child needs intervention for “a problem”) Consulting a language pathologist can help. $$$$
(Have we established that echolalia – a natural part of speech development, is a disease or a disorder? No. Within the U.S. “helping, caring, fixing” religious movement, any behavior, physical condition or implied mental state qualifies as a potential abnormality.)
The main symptom of echolalia is the repetition of phrases and noises that have been heard. (Echolalia is now a ‘disorder” all by itself!) It can be immediate, with the speaker repeating something right away after hearing it. It can also be delayed, with the speaker repeating something hours or days after hearing it.
This means that any utterance, at any time, can be a symptom of pathology.
Causes and risk factors: Not surprisingly, no causes or risk factors are presented in the Blah, blah, blah below.
Interactive echolalia / Functional echolalia is attempted communication intended to be interactional, acting as communication with another person. (OMG! – Who wrote this?)
Examples include: Turn taking: The person with echolalia uses phrases to fill an alternating verbal exchange. Verbal completion: Speech is used to complete familiar verbal routines that are initiated by others. For example, if people with echolalia are asked to complete a task, they might say “good job!” while completing it, echoing what they’re used to hearing. Providing information: Speech may be used to offer new information, but it may be hard to connect the dots. A mother might ask her child what he wants for lunch, for example, and he’ll sing the song from a lunch meat commercial to say he wants a sandwich.
Non-interactive echolalia / Non-interactive echolalia is typically not intended as communication and is meant for personal use, like personal labeling or self-stimulation. (???) Examples include: Non-focused speech: The person with echolalia says something that has no relevance to the situational (aka “social”) context, like reciting portions of a TV show while walking around a classroom. This behavior may be self-stimulatory. Situation association: Speech is triggered by a situation, visual, person, or activity, and doesn’t seem to be an attempt at communication. If someone sees a brand-name product in the store, for example, they might sing the song from the commercials. Rehearsal: The speaker may utter the same phrase softly to themselves a few times before responding in a normal voice. This may be practice for the coming interaction. Self-direction: People might use these utterances to walk themselves through a process. If they’re making a sandwich, for example, they might tell themselves to “Turn on water. Use soap. Rinse hands. Turn off water. Dry hands. Get bread. Put bread on plate. Get lunch meat,” and so on until the process is completed.
The running commentary of a person’s personal inner voice has been labeled “echolalia” – a far reach from repeating words or phrases as a normal part of language acquisition! Again, any utterance, public or private, may be labeled echolalia, and be construed as “having a disorder”
Interactive vs. non-interactive echolalia: / Echolalia is reflective of how the speaker processes information. (An assumption; not proven) Sometimes, recognizing the difference between interactive and non-interactive echolalia is difficult until you get to the know the speaker and how they communicate. In some cases, echolalia seems completely out of context. (Note again – the move to a non-specific identification of echolalia, “the disorder” as having no objective status: it can be tailored to fit any individual and his or her “suspicious” behavior! By this point, half the readers will likely be assessing themselves, their children, and anyone they know, for having echolalia, the disorder.)
Consider this great example from Susan Stokes. If a child with echolalia gets angry at his teacher when recess is over, he might suddenly say “Go to hell, Lieutenant!” The teacher might later discover that the child had been watching “A Few Good Men” and had used a phrase he knew was tied to anger (now echolalia is connected to a forbidden emotion) to convey his feelings in that moment. While his response seemed out of context, he had a reason to use that phrase to communicate. (Is this pathological?)
(Echolalia is here assumed to be a proven pathological condition)
A professional can diagnose echolalia by having a conversation with the person with echolalia. If they struggle to do anything other than repeat what has been said, they may have echolalia. Some children with autism are regularly tested for this during their speech lessons. Echolalia ranges from minor to severe. (More properly, a behavior that is a normal part of language acquisition, which may or may not continue in individual people, beyond the “socially acceptable” age. Echolalia may become a minor, or significant, indication of delayed language progression, or MEAN NOTHING AT ALL.) A doctor can identify the stage of echolalia (disease language) and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Speech therapies: / Some people with echolalia go to regular speech therapy sessions to learn how to say what they’re thinking, (which is actually a forbidden antisocial behavior. What is “wanted” socially is a regurgitation of “proper and normal” social thought.) A behavioral intervention called “cues-pause-point” is often used for intermediate echolalia. In this treatment, the speech therapist asks the person with echolalia to answer a question correctly and tells them they’ll point to them when it’s time to answer. (Gee! Control freak behavior?) Then, the therapist asks a question, such as “What’s your name?” After a short pause, they prompt the speaker to answer. They also hold up a cue card with the correct answer. (Dog-training again!)
Medication: / (Drugs; the modern American psych-psych answer for everything)
A doctor can prescribe antidepressants or anxiety medications to combat the side effects of echolalia. (And just what are these? One of course is being mislabeled as defective.) This doesn’t treat the condition itself, but it helps keep the person with echolalia calm. Since echolalia symptoms may increase when a person is stressed or anxious, the calming effect can help lessen the severity of the condition.
Aye, yai, yai! A rationalization-justification for over-prescribing and off-label use of anti-depressants, not for clinical depression, but “just in case” the person gets upset for any reason. Totally irresponsible and unethical.
Home care: / People with echolalia may work with other people at home to develop their communication skills. There are text and online training programs available to help parents get positive responses from their children. (It’s always about controlling annoying or psycho-socially proscribed behavior. Now we have a normal behavior, echolalia, illegitimately inflated into a global communication – brain deficit that must be corrected by the intervention of “experts” and the pressure to conform placed on the child by their family!) Encouraging a child to use limited vocabulary may make it easier for them to learn to communicate more effectively.
Effectively meaning, (ironically) to parrot the expected socially-approved phrases and “correct answers” required in social (non) communication.
Echolalia outlook and prevention: as if it’s a contagious disease Echolalia is a natural part of language development. It’s not always a good idea to prevent it completely. To avoid permanent echolalia in children, parents must encourage other forms of communication. Expose a child to a wide variety of words and phrases. In time, most children can overcome their echolalia naturally.
Yes, let’s ignore the failure of American education: American public schools are so dysfunctional, that teaching children language mechanics, vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, etc,, beyond what is necessary for participation in social media, is considered politically incorrect, a waste of time, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The result is that millions of Americans are functionally illiterate, and can’t communicate “what they are thinking” because they aren’t thinking anything, and don’t know how to think.
Cultural echolalia is the expression of neotenic conformity of communication in the U.S., as exemplified in political, media-advertising-marketing, and social media language and images.