Have you ever found yourself listening to the way you speak, or paying attention to the way you move, and suddenly realize that you’re imitating someone else?
I certainly have, the most recent of which was about five minutes before I started writing this post!
Over the last three to four years, there have been times when I will say things a certain way, or choose certain words, that immediately call to mind a friend or close acquaintance.
“But autistics have trouble mimicking others! Mirror neuron issues!” you say?
Actually, a talent for mimicry seems to be one of the traits common to female autistics. It’s one of the reasons why female autistics are much harder to diagnose – and have a harder time getting diagnosed – than most male autistics. We tend to mimic automatically, without thinking about it, which helps us pass in general society – though it’s not without its pitfalls, of course.
I don’t know about others, but I certainly never knew I did that. Oh, as a child every so often I’d notice once I was home in Toronto after a trip to see family in Newfoundland, I would say some words with a Newfoundland accent – specifically the accent of one of my aunts – but I just thought I had a good ear for accents.
It wasn’t until a month or two after one of my CAPP meetings that I realized. My dad had just either picked me up or dropped me off one Sunday (can’t remember the specifics, I’m afraid), and I said something to him. A moment later, I went, “I sound like Patricia right now!”
And, in fact, I did – right down to my intonation and word choice.
Since then, I’ve noticed when I do it – most of the time, as far as I’m aware…. It doesn’t happen that frequently, and it can be weeks to months after I last saw the person in question, but for a minute or two, I sound exactly like someone else I know – just the actual voice is different.
It’s a bit weird… but at the same time, kind of neat. I think I’ve mentioned before that I write fanfiction (it taught me a lot for writing my own original stuff), and one thing that people have said from the very first story I wrote, way back in the days of Babylon 5, was that I had a gift for writing the characters’ voices in such a way that they could ‘hear’ the character actually saying them. It was a great compliment, and I think that talent for mimicry is at least partly responsible for that. 🙂
Anyway, just wanted to send out my thoughts on that, prompted by the inadvertent mimicry of my favourite Social Group facilitator!
(Upcoming posts: Executive Function basics, and my Sensory Issues presentation!)
IIRC echolalia is repetition of words and noises. Mimicry is much subtler.