Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum:
The Journey from Echolalia to Self-Generated Language

by Marge Blanc, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

In Natural Language Acquisition on the Autism Spectrum, we are introduced to ‘invisible’ echolalia, the kind we barely pay attention to in our typically-developing youngsters. It slips under the radar, and we think nothing of it.

But in autism, it’s really late. And obvious. And seemingly pervasive. And that’s the subject of this ground-breaking book.


Echolalia in our kids with autism is just like the ‘typical’ variety, just later, much later. The good news, though, is that it communicates, and it jump-starts language development!

Read this book, and you will learn all you need to know to understand your students who use echolalia. You will learn to listen for meaning, to present language at the right level, and to support your students towards the next steps of NATURAL language development.

Research determined decades ago that kids who use echolalia are communicating — and jump-starting their journey towards self-generated language. NLA builds on that foundation, and reports the progress of students over time. It tells the real stories of real kids, and empowers professionals and parents to track the heart and meaning of children’s expression. It gives professionals and parents the freedom to ‘be there’ with children — to truly listen — and to converse in a form that is meaningful to each child. 

NLA does this by acknowledging echolalia as a stage of language development: the one a child is ready for as we shape and support it towards the other stages of language development. No longer are we tempted to ‘teach’ language like a skill. Now we can grow language as true development, natural development: Natural Language Acquisition.

As we learn to implement the principles of natural language acquisition, kids make progress — true, developmental progress. When we tune into the intent of a child’s language, the regulatory needs of the child, and the child’s life context, we can provide appropriate support for real language development.

Open your mind to a new understanding: our kids with autism are communicating with us! They are doing their best, at their language-development level! And they will be able to develop more sophisticated forms of communication with you as their guide. 

Open this book, and share it with the others who support your students on this ride of life. Enjoy! 

Target Audience

For Speech-Language Pathologists working with students with autism ages 2 to 20 years.

This book is useful:

  • As guidance for parents and educators
  • As a textbook for classes in language development
  • As a source book for Speech-Language Pathologists

It includes all the information a practicing SLP needs to assess and support language development in children who use echolalia, from the beginning stages to the advanced stages of language development.

From assessment protocol and treatment planning to inspiring stories, catchy illustrations, and extensive language samples, this book has everything you need to guide your students through the stages of Natural Language Acquisition!