Autism & Vocalizations – My Autistic Experience with Echolalia, Palilalia, and Verbal Stimming

Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on May 24, 2022. The video’s public release will be Aug 3, 2022.

ID: Lyric, a pale skinned nonbinary person with short green, teal, purple, pink, orange, and yellow hair with shaved sides and jet black roots is sitting behind a white microphone in an RV with dark wood panel walls. They are wearing a red, sleeveless, hooded shirt that says “Corpus Christi” on the front in white and rainbow font. The words “Autistic Vocalizations” floats in front of them in pale teal and green letters.

Transcript:

Though each and every single Autistic Person is different, many Autistic People make different noises, repeat sounds, or make other vocalizations.

If you would like to know more about what this is like for me, as an Autistic Person who experiences all of this, please do stay tuned.

Yeah, you’re still here. You didn’t leave. Thank you. I’m so glad you stuck around. Let’s dive into this one.

There are three main types of Autistic vocalizations I’m going to be talking about in this week’s video: the first one is echolalia, the next one is Palilalia, and verbal stimming.

I am not sure if I am saying those first two exactly correctly.

I’m going to be honest, because spelling phonetically, sounding out words and knowing the word based on how it’s spelled… is not my thing. Let’s dive in.

So let’s start out with echolalia, because this is a big one for me, I’m jumping in with the one I do the most. I’m very familiar with what it’s like to be an echoer.

As someone who has echolalia, I echo things I hear, people I hear, sounds I hear… whether it is a word or phrase that someone has said, a commercial, or a song on the radio, an elevator ding, a computer notification, or a crosswalk… I hear a little sound and I will repeat it.

There is immediate echolalia, where I may immediately repeat the sound, without realizing I’m doing it, or delayed echolalia, where I may echo the sound later, on in the future, because something in my brain will remind me of that sound, and I will -bing- put the sound out of my mouth, and then it is an echo.

Really important to understand about echolalia is that: this is something that is often subconcious, meaning it is not something I have a great deal of control over.

Someone will say a word or phrase, and I will mimic it, repeated back, echoing in exactly the same tonality, and the same rhythm that the first speaker said.

If it’s a sound, or a dog, or an animal barking, I’m going to copy the dog or the animal. It’s not just human people that I echo. I echo any kind of sounds that I hear.

Crosswalk: “wait, wait, wait” that’s it, that’s another one.

Those are just things, that are in my brain, and when I get reminded of them, they just pop out… subconsciously, without control.

Palilalia is when you are repeating your own words and phrases.

So for example, if I am responding to something, I may say “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” and I’ll say “yes”, like five or six times, and it often will go a little bit quieter, as they get to the end… or I might repeat a whole like phrase, or a couple words or sentences. So I’ll say a sentence and I might say, “I would love for you to come over here, come over here, come over here” and it’ll just kind of trail off at the end, or I may repeat the same sentence a few times, and I don’t realize I’ve done it.

This is very sub conscious…. uh, I don’t want to say behavior. I hate that word behavior.

It’s a very subconscious thing, that is happening in my brain, and often I don’t realize it has happened, with echolalia or palilalia, untill someone has pointed out that I have done this.

Now, the last one I’m going to talk about today is a bit different from the first two, verbal stimming, because stimming is something I find that, though sometimes I do it without realizing I’m doing it, I do, often, have a bit more control over the verbal stimming.

For example, if I am feeling uncomfortable or nervous, I mask, and then I hold everything in, and become very quiet, and shut down, but the echolalia and the palilalia come out naturally, when I am trying to communicate.

They’re constantly happening, and I can’t really escape them, because if I’m trying to communicate with other people, and there are sounds, and words, and things happening, it’s just something that’s going to happen.

Whereas the verbal stimming, if I am relaxed, and feeling comfortable, and drop my guard, and stop being hyper-aware… yes, the verbal stimming does come out, without me even realizing it’s happening, but, like I said, because of masking, I have a bit more control sometimes, sometimes over, over verbal stimming.

So what’s verbal stimming, exactly? What is it like, being someone who does engage in verbal stimming?

Well, that is me making different words, sounds, or phrases… similar to echolalia, but I am intentionally, often soothing myself, or it has a different purpose, where it’s not just something that -ding- automatically happens.

These may be phrases and scripts from my favorite movies, TV shows, or songs, things that I find comforting.

I may sing to myself, grunt, groan, growl, make animal noises, make little cliques. “Click, click, Click”

I may speak in little accents, and make funny voices. It is me exploring sounds, on a very close up level, playing with and studying the sounds, having fun, listening to, and experimenting with the sound of my own voice. I have done this since I was a very, very, small child.

Singing was one of my first ever vocal stims. A lot of my vocal stims are related to music. There is, there is, there’s, verbal stims, stimming with words, and there is vocal stims, stimming with sounds.

Both of these are things that I do, constantly, all the time, and are things that I have been told that I do that are annoying, and inconvenience other people, but they are things that I need to do. They are things that are so natural to me, as natural as breathing, that being made to feel ashamed for these things, has been really hard for me over my life.

Since being diagnosed Autistic at 29, almost six years ago, by the time this video will be released, it’s been a process of me learning to accept and love myself, and the types of vocalizations and verbalizations that I make.

Stimming has a function.

My brain takes in a lot of information at once. Sometimes “mimimcs computer ding”- the world can be over whelming, and stimming lets me focus in, and center myself, on one or two sensory experiences, grounding myself, bringing myself into the present moment.

Vocal stimming, using my voice as the tool for the stimming, with phrases and mantras, and sounds, can be a very powerful tool, if I’m able to access it.

Stimming, for Autistic People, has a function, and echolalia and palilalia, in Autistic People, isn’t, necessarily, meaningless… those echoes, especially.

As a young person, I would sit and verbally stim with words that I echoed, learning those words.

Echolalia is, actually, a very common part of early childhood speech and development, but for many Autistic People, we may continue to echo, throughout our adult lives.

Now as an Autistic adult, in a romantic relationship with another Autistic Person, who hangs out with other Autistic People who echo, I love that we echo each other. We echo each other’s noises, words, and sounds, and it is a way for us to bond, and share, with one another.

I used to be ashamed of this, and it’s something that I’m really learning to love, and appreciate, about myself, my Autistic friends, loved ones and my romantic partner.

If I would have been discouraged from echoing, or verbally stimming, as a young person, I may have never learned to speak, or communicate, and use language.

When I am around people that don’t understand that my echoing doesn’t mean I am mocking them, or making fun of them, and I’m around people, instead, who accept my echoing, and see it for what it is… it can be the difference, being understood, versus being misunderstood, having people understand, and not having people assign intentions behind my actions, that aren’t there. It’s so empowering.

Try to remember this next time you say something, and someone mimics, or echoes back what you have just said, or you hear someone copying a sound that they’ve just heard.

Please don’t think, automatically, that someone is making fun of you if they mimic you. I’ve heard that phrase, that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and with people like me that are echoers… this is actually, very, very true.

All right, we have made it to the end of the video, and if you have made it this far, can I ask you to do me a huge favor, pretty please? Pretty pretty, please… can I ask you to hit that thumbs up button, so that I know you made it all the way to the end of the video, and I was able to stay on topic well enough not to lose you?

Because I ramble, and trail, and go all over the place, sometimes I lose people, and they turn out of the videos, it’s really helpful for me to know if you’ve stuck around this far.

Thanks for you, who did stick around this far. I’m really grateful for your time. I know that our time is a gift that we have. So I am grateful for that gift you have given me today.

Thank you to those who share, those who comment, those who give video suggestions, and feedback.

Also, of course, as always, thank you to the Patreon Supporters, Facebook Subscribers, YouTube Channel Members, and now Twitter Super Followers, who help do that little monetary subscription, that helps me with this blog, so that I can afford things, such as: website hosting, transcriptioning software, close captions, all of the technology that the blog is created on… those things have to replaced every few years.

I couldn’t do this without you. I’m just an Autistic Person, sitting alone in an RV, talking into a laptop.

This blog is, literally, made possible, and fueled by, and created, thanks to the support of the viewers like you.

So thank you, whatever capacity you are supporting in. Like I said, even just watching the videos, sticking around and watching the whole thing: that’s so awesome. You are a great, huge part of what I do. This blog wouldn’t be anything without the readers.

I will see you all next week. I do put out new videos every Wednesday, so if you are not yet following, or subscribed, or have the notifications turned on, be sure to hit that bell icon, turn on those notifications, so that you don’t ever miss an update.

I will see you all next Wednesday. Bye!

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With gratitude,

-Lyric

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