Thursday, 19 July 2012

From echolalia to your own words

Echolalia - repeating things you've heard without necessarily understanding them - is one of the many odd neurological quirks that can come with Aspergers, particularly in kids.

I was never noticed to do this as a kid, but looking back I think I did, just in a fairly subtle way.  Rather than immediately repeating back what I'd heard, I'd hang onto it and use it later in circumstances where it seemed to fit.  Often, it wasn't things I'd heard in real life so much as words, phrases or whole sentences from my special interests.

Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't.  I've always had a weird mix of special interests that don't necessarily reflect the culture around me at the time.  For instance, when I was what these days would be called a tween, my key special interests were the Marx Brothers and Rocky and Bullwinkle.  But, realistically, how many useful phrases can a 90s adolescent glean from 1930s comedy films and a cartoon from the 1960s? 

I wonder if I'd lucked into more age-appropriate interests - say I discovered Triple J earlier and got into music just in time for Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette - how that would have affected my communication, and the way I came across to the rest of the world?

As I got older and got my head more around how the world worked, I moved from my library of stock phrases (which I still use when I have to) to proper autonomous self-expression.

This wasn't usually a conscious strategy, but it's something I recognise now when I look back at my actions and responses.

I won't say I understand the world completely - because can anybody? - but these days I hope I have a reasonably good handle on the world around me and my part in it, and I'm usually able to interact with that world in my own terms.  But I only coped long enough to get where I am thanks to borrowing responses from Groucho when I was younger.