An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley

Echolalia and a Child’s Love

When living with severe Autism in your life and home, some things tend to take different levels of importance for you and others are still important, but you broaden your range of expectations on how to gain them or reach your goals.   Speech is a good example of the latter.

My son David doesn’t have a lot of communication skills and is a far cry away from having language mastered at even the level most other 5 years old have.  He still finds ways to tell me he loves me though if I am just willing to keep my ears, heart, and eyes open.  And most importantly, my mind.   Most of David’s speech is echolalia driven (about 80% worth).  He will quote anything from random conversations he has memorized from observing me and others talk to each other, to lines and phrases from his favorite movies or a t.v. commercial he saw on-line or at Grandma’s house.  He sometimes will even attempt to mix and match all these memorized statements and phrases to try to get the reaction he is hoping for out of you whether it be a smile, a yes to a question of his, permission to do something, etc.  It can get quite comical when he starts mixing them up too. lol

Out of all the countless ways I have heard him use his echolalia to his verbal advantage though, this morning was by far my favorite.  It’s source comes from all the countless Thomas the Train movies he watches and it was his very first attempt to originate his own way of telling me he loved me and appreciated me while we were cuddling together after I had just helped him calm down from an overload.  So what did he say?  Well I can tell you right now that the words “I” “love” and “you” were NOT in it, but when you have been on this journey for a while with your child you start to learn well how to listen to their intent and not just their words or lack there of. 🙂

David’s first original “I love you” statement (meaning un-prompted and un-coached):

“You are a very useful mommy”
(paired with a kiss and a hug ❤ 🙂 )


  1. HeeHee! How sweet. 🙂

    • A moment to treasure for sure 🙂

  2. Uber awesome!

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