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2 1/2 year child repeats question instead of answering. Not interacting with others. Concerned

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Practicing since : 1982
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My grand daughter appears to be smart. She is 2 1/2 yrs. old nearing 3yrs. She knows how to count to 15, can count how many objects, knows her shapes and colors. She can ask questions, and answer questions, but quite frequently will repeat back a question you ask rather than answer. She has a baby sister 5 mths. old and always does well around babies, hugging and kissing them and talking to them, however, the older children she will not interact with, or unknown adults she will shy away from. She may nervously say Hi and wave if prompted but will soon start to cry and/or act scared. She is very loving and loves music, dancing, and singing alot of songs she has learned. What do you think the cause of her repeating a question over several times means?
Posted Sat, 28 Jul 2012 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Taher Kagalwala 2 hours later

Congratulations on being a very lucky grandmother to have such a bright and inquisitive grand-daughter. I have read your question in detail and think that she is absolutely normal. Repeating the questions of the opposite person can be normal behaviour in this age group and is referred to as "echolalia" in the medical dictionary (echo= sound returning, lalia= speech).

Actually, the child may be playful (especially if you see that she is giggling or laughing as she repeats the question), or, more likely, she is learning the intricacies of English language and acquiring skills of articulation and voicing, diction and inflection. Thus, after a few months to a year, as her skills increase, she will outgrow this "problem" and speak fluently and easily.

You may help her by listening to her repeat the question, and then voicing the appropriate answer for her as a prompt, so that she will repeat that, too, and improve the command on her language.

Persistence of echolalia can be a symptom of psychological problems, but in your case, it seems to be entirely normal at this stage/age of her development.

Her liking for younger children and staying away from older ones or peers is again nothing but an individual preference, and should not ring alarm bells in your mind.

If you have anything more on this or need clarifications, do revert to me.

Thank you once again for addressing your concerns on XXXXXXX

With warm regards to you and the baby's parents, and love to the child,

-Dr. Taher
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: 2 1/2 year child repeats question instead of answering. Not interacting with others. Concerned 6 hours later
Thank you for your prompt and informative reply. Her parents and I are at ease. Her pediatrician asked if she did it all the time when she overheard her repeat 2 sentences and asked her mother if she did it all the time. My daughter said "not all the time. She will answer as well XXXXXXX The doctor said XXXXXXX Oh, because that would be a concern". We have been concerned since. We will do as you suggest with providing the correct answer for her to repeat until she masters the language. Thank you again.

Answered by Dr. Taher Kagalwala 1 hour later
You are welcome.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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