Is your autistic / ADHD child keep repeating the same phrase, sentence or question?

Today mine did. She is 7 and we had diverted into my parent’s house because our home was just not the right place to be today. We got there and my Mum was home, but my Dad had gone out for the morning. 

Miss 7 asked “Where did Grandad go?” and my Mum answered her. During the course of the next two hours or so, until my Dad got home, she asked frequently. 

Suddenly it dawned on me, she knows where Grandad is because we answered her several times, and we asked her where Grandad was and she answered correctly. 

This is her attempt at making conversation and not knowing what to talk about… so she keeps asking and asking to try and make conversation. 

I told my mum that I think this is what is going on, so we tested the waters. It worked. Every time she asked again we would begin to direct the conversation; it would look something like this:

M7: So where is Grandad? (again) 

Adult: What are you planning on doing with the play dough you have there? 

*conversation will continue*

… a little while later … 

M7: Where is Grandad? 

Adult: This looks interesting, what is it about? 

*conversation would continue*

Like IT WORKED like a charm. 

This is not distraction, or redirection in the common way of thinking about it. It is verbal scripting. A lot like when we read to a child there is a lot more education for the child than just ‘having fun’. There is fluency, voices, tone, key words, learning punctuation…. so this is a lot more like reading just without the book. Picking up the frequency, topics, key ideas, flow of the conversation. Here we are teaching our neuro-diverse children about the flow and management of conversation. 

Like a lot of children with autism and ADHD who can’t follow the social norms of a normal conversation, I imagine repetition is quite common because they are trying to connect or reconnect but don’t know how. 

So like us all, this results in the bland thing that works, except being a child their attention span is shortened, especially those who have global delays. So the repetition of the question which has proven to work becomes their chosen pathway. 

So next time your child repeats the same thing over and over … and over… maybe try remembering this little tip and begin to lead the conversation for them! 

Let us know how you go by leaving a comment below! The community would love to hear from you! 


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