Interactional and Phonetic Aspects of Immediate Echolalia in Autism: A Case Study

John Local, A.J. Wootton

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A case study is presented of an autistic boy aged 11 years. The analysis is based on audio-visual recordings made in both his home and school. The focus of the study is on that subset of immediate echolalia that has been referred to as pure echoing. Using an approach informed by conversation analysis and descriptive phonetics, distinctions are drawn between different forms of pure echo. It is argued that one of these forms, what we call 'unusual echoes', has distinctive interactional and phonetic properties which do not have a counterpart in the speech of non-autistic children. These principally consist of a particular segmental and suprasegmental relationship to the prior adult turn, a particular rhythmic timing and a functional opaqueness. This behaviour is set within the context of this child's general communicative behaviour which, in various ways, places a premium on the use of repetition skills. These skills also inform the child's use of repetition in unusual echoes, though here the interactional and phonetic properties of such repetitions suggest that they display a distinct interactional stance to the questions that precede them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-194
Number of pages40
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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