When the Speech pathologist showed me that Garrett's echolalia was a sign he didn't understand what was going on I felt particularly bad because there had been many time I have disciplined or corrected Garrett thinking his echolalia was evidence that he was understanding.
"That was naughty."
"Do you understand?"
"Say you're sorry."
I'm happy to say that in the last three weeks, through being more interactive with him and with some more tools to better understand him I have not had to correct him for anything. He's been pretty obedient and good.
That changed last night when I saw the cat go galloping out of the bathroom with Garrett following close behind with his bathroom cup held over his head. Before I could even process the scene, Garrett threw the cup at the cat who barely escaped behind the basement door.
"GARRETT!" I yelled. "That was naughty."
Instead of echoing back to me he just looked at me.
"Come here. You are going into time out."
"Yes, time out."
I put him in his time out chair and it did not seem to register to him that he was in trouble. He sat there smiling and seemingly waiting for an explanation for why he was sitting there.
After a minute or two he tried to climb down.
"No. You stay there. You are in time out."
He finally got it. His little face scrunched up in sadness and he whined, "Time out?"
"Yes. Time out. You threw your cup at the kitty. That was naughty. You need to be nice to the kitties."
He just looked at me.
"Mommy, time out!" he said.
"No. Mommy doesn't go into time out. I didn't do anything naughty. Do you know what you did that was naughty?"
"Naughty?" he asked.
"Yes. Naughty. What did you do to get a time out?"
"Throw at the kitty."
"Yes. You threw your cup at the kitty."
"Sorry," He said without my prompting.
"You need to say you're sorry to the kitty."
"Sorry, kitty," he responded.
After that we hugged and he promised to be nice. We practiced being nice by petting the kitties and that was it.
This is rather paramount to us and him as this is the first time he's ever been corrected where I know for sure he understood what he did wrong and why he was being corrected.
Again, this morning, at play group he tested the waters by pushing another little boy who was trying to play with the same toy Garrett was playing with and we went through the time out process again. This time when I asked him what he did wrong he said, "Push the boy."
After he apologized we practiced sharing and being nice by helping the boy build a fort out of giant legos. He didn't push anyone else for the rest of the play group (which in itself is a bit paramount as pushing has become his go-to method of communicating disapproval).
It's such a relief to know that he's understanding correction and discipline and even responding to it.
It certainly beats sentence after sentence of echolalia.