Echolalia – Learning from the environment ASD, PD and Trauma

Echolalia describes the precise repetition, or echoing, of words and sounds. Echolalia can be a symptom of various disorders including aphasia, dementia, traumatic brain injury, and schizophrenia, but it is most often associated with autism (ASD) and Aspergers, therefore echolalia is relative to brain injury only! 

Echolalia is a unique form of speech, and if your child is autistic it may be one of the first ways in which your child uses speech to communicate. Language is the firstborn communication tool we all use to interact!

For example; A parent would say to a child, ‘would you like a drink,’ and the child’s response would be, ‘would you like a drink!’

So if echolalia is only relative to ASD, Asperger and brain injury, and brain injury is an organic disability. Why are these people labelled with PD?

Because PD is the social model of dysfunctional upbringing, damaged attachments and trauma related experiences! (Echolalia) Brain injury, Autism, Asperger is neurological not PD!!

ASD, Asperger is nature, meaning innate, they are born this way, whereas PD is nurture, socially, from maladaptive home or school life, but created, or made this way!

Many accounts from the young people admitted to mental health units, who share their experiences – (which is evidence,) points to that fact that they were bullied, either at school, from peers, from a dysfunctional home life, parents have separated, violence from abuse or any other dysfunctional social background, these impairments are socially created, indicating PTSD, therefore, is the label PD fair?

We have to stop using personality disorder to label a traumatic childhood!!! It’s conducive to recovery.


Young people on the ASD spectrum, who have attempted suicide or self-harm are often falling into this category which neither supports rehabilitation nor empowers their voice. Underneath their pain, there is a cause, which can be for a plethora of reasons, one of them is the transitions from primary to secondary school, for others, it is social anxiety experienced with peers and then there is poor parenting, which creates a chaotic young person. ASD, Asperger, cannot cope with change! This doesn’t mean they are PD!!!

So, the reasons for the emerging personality disorder isn’t as straight forward as we all think, secondly, this label is derogative to recovery, and, we are overlooking the trauma and traumatic childhoods that young people experience.

Neurological or sociological, the two disorders differ, yet are clumped together, unfairly!

Autism and Asperger’s depend on mimicry for social learning. The neurotypical learns to manipulate the environment! Behaviour has many different mechanisms that help to hide the true feelings of the person. And, drives our ability to socialise and communicate with one another.

Young people with ASD or Asperger’s have great difficulty with social interaction and integration, on the back of this, they learn during their younger years through echolalia, which is mimicry. Getting rejected, ridiculed or bullied only exacerbates the nature of their distress.

An alternative name that is now gaining momentum for behaviour in Cluster B is the re defined label of borderline personality disorder, (BPD) which has now been re-named as two sub groups, emotionally stable (EU) and emotionally unstable (ES). On the other hand, PTSD is diagnosed from an event that was traumatic from external circumstances, and doesn’t stipulate if the cause came from childhood, it could come from anytime during one’s life, they too are labelled PD.

PD is a maladaptive response to a behaviour that the person is unable to correct. Or where the person refuses to accept they have any problem? In other words, the PD cannot and will not be told the truth! The PD becomes the manipulator to get their affection needs met, whereas the ASD is misunderstood, for being different!

We ALL fall under the personality disorder spectrum, everybody has something lasting and damaging from childhood, nobody has the perfect childhood – Most of us learn healthy coping skills, and emotional regulation, whereas someone on the pathway for PD, doesn’t learn these skills. Their behaviour continues to get maladaptive, which informs the pathway into PD. It informs, that’s all? Anyone who owns the label to excuse behaviour is the very reason why the have the label in the first place!


A common theme is self harm!

Self-harm is really rage, internalised, whereas in abusive relationships, this anger and rage is externalised. So a child that is repressed, forced to do something against their beliefs, or bullied and vilified for trying to fit in, will either repress the rage, (suicidal tendencies) or express the rage (damaging others).

So what’s the difference between PTSD from external causes and ASD/Asperger’s trauma?

Firstly; ASD and Asperger’s individuals can’t help it. Their brain is wired differently. So a PD label is unfair and completely overlooks their true neurology. It’s like labelling a brain injured car crash victim (without blame) with an alcoholic or drug user (self directed harm), the two are totally different diagnosis. Both have a brain trauma! One is blameless the other was self directed!

The label PD is derogative, however, it is practical in informing the pathway for treatment. In mental health, we treat the symptom, not the diagnosis.

After MDT, I sat with the CAMHS team manager and we discussed the pathway that is commonly seen with young people who have experienced something traumatic during childhood, between the ages of 0 – 7 will express this through behaviour during the ages of 8 -14, delinquency, or deliberate self-harm, and it is this delinquency that often directs the young person to fall into the category of conduct disorder. If the CD is not treated effectively, between the ages of 0 -21, they go on to full blown PD, when it’s PTSD (trauma) related.


Nobody is born bad! Social, psychological and developmental aspects play a huge part in personality and behaviour!

On the other hand, there is the neurobiological driven behaviours, which has its root causes from brain development, so a young person with Asperger’s or Autism that lacks empathy, aged between 0 -14 whom have experienced a difficult transition, or come from a home that was neglectful, is at risk of role emerging PD. When it isn’t correct labelling, or fair – Were they taught about how to manage emotional regulation?

Young people who grew up in care, with damaged attachments, inevitably fall under the bracket of PD, yet their root cause of dysfunction was of no fault of their own. They too, witnessed and experienced trauma!

Abuse, Neglect, Trauma, Rejection and Abandonment is trauma. All these concepts are inner child wounds from childhood traumatising experiences. Self harm is their coping strategy for inner pain.

Whereas Autism, Aspergers and other neurobiological impairments is a brain disorder – misunderstood, misjudged sectioned etc, for having an invisible disability, judged by their behaviour!

Behaviour is a voice! Expressing itself to be head and resumed.

Children are not born violent and aggressive, they are made this way, by society! Drugs, legal and illegal also play a huge part in behaviour, repressed emotion is a leading cause for psychosis and violent outbursts.

Look at the environment in which they are learning from and being taught – echolalia and mimicry plays a vital role, not only in language but also behaviour!

If we teach emotional regulation, enabling the young person to express their emotions to resolve anxiety, this would smooth transitions and support change!

A person with PD has capacity to change their behaviour, (if they choose not to, is another debate) whereas, a person with ASD/Asperger, can’t.


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