Echolalia Articles

Publications on Echolalia and Gestalt Language

My early interest in echolalia came out of my background and undergraduate degree in Developmental Psycholinguistics, and my early volunteer work with children who demonstrated echolalia. At the time, the literature in ASD and other disabilities viewed echolalia from a pathology orientation, especially in the behavioral literature.

It was believed that echolalia needed to be discouraged or extinguished in efforts to train language based on the inaccurate assumption that echolalia was a communication disorder in and of itself. This eventually led to my dissertation research and a follow-up study on delayed echolalia, as well as a number of chapters and articles of a more clinical and applied nature. In our social-pragmatic research using early video analysis of echolalia used in natural activities, we were able to document that echolalia served a variety of functions for children. Furthermore, we found evidence that for many children, echolalia likely serves as an alternative (gestalt) strategy for acquiring language.

The following articles and chapters reflected our efforts to look at echolalia from a developmental perspective, and eventually shifted the perspectives of echolalia as an undesirable behavior to a multi-faceted, developmental phenomenon.

  • The Functions of Immediate Echolalia in Autistic Children (Prizant and Duchan, 1981)
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    This article reported the findings of my Ph.D. Dissertation research, a social-pragmatic video analysis on echolalia, which was co-authored with my mentor and dissertation director, Dr. Judith Duchan.
  • Language Acquisition and Communicative Behavior in Autism: Toward an Understanding of the “Whole” It. (Prizant, 1983)
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    In this article, I make the argument that we must understand often discussed “deficits” in autism in relation to language and cognitive development. It was my initial attempt to directly challenge the “deficit-checklist” approach to language and social communication in ASD so prevalent at this time.
  • Echolalia in Autism: Assessment and Intervention (Prizant, 1983)
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    My first article that focused on the educational and clinical implications of this newer functional and developmental perspective on echolalia.
  • Analysis of the Functions of Delayed Echolalia in Autistic Children (Prizant and Rydell, 1984)
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    This article reports on our research on delayed echolalia, which used the same social-pragmatic approach in our earlier research on immediate echolalia, co-authored with my former, student Pat Rydell.
  • Echolalia (Schuler & Prizant, 1985)
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    A review chapter written with my dear friend and late colleague, Dr. Adriana Schuler. Adriana added a neurolinguistic perspective to our consideration of echolalia, in this chapter published in the classic series of books on ASD by Eric Schopler and Gary Mesibov.