Why Children with Autism Repeat Lines from Movies or TV Shows

Why Children with Autism Repeat Lines from Movies or TV Shows
Some children with autism will repeat lines of a movie or T.V. show over and over. This is similar to delayed echolalia ; it is called scripting. Scripting is a self-stimulating behavior. The child’s speech may not sound clear or loud enough for you to understand what he is saying while he is scripting or it maybe articulated clearly. I have found scripting to be extremely distracting to the child, like most self-stimulating behaviors and should be discouraged.

It is important to discuss how to manage self-stimulating behaviors with an occupational therapist (OT) who is specially training in sensory integration strategies. An OT may recommend having some time throughout your child’s day when it is okay to engage in self-stimulating behaviors such as scripting. An OT can develop a "sensory diet" to help your child better regulate his sensory system. This in turn helps him feel calm and organized and better able to focus and learn. In my experience, a "sensory diet" creates the foundation upon which all other therapies and learning activities can be built on. It is essential that teachers, aides and other therapists are trained on how to use your child’s sensory diet to enhance his learning.

In my experience, children with autism who use scripting as a self-stimulating behavior need to be continually redirected from engaging in this behavior. For example, if a child is scripting a scene from his favorite movie I would tell him, "It is not time to talk about movies because we are not watching movies now." Then attempt to engage the child in an activity that is not compatable with scripting such as book reading, singing songs or playing games that require verbal responses from the child.

You can also try a reward system that discourages scripting. For example, tell the child "no talking about movies" for 10 minutes (using a Time Timer) and you earn a token. After 5 tokens have been earned the child picks a reward.


Janzen, J. (1996). Understanding the Nature of Autism. San Antonio, TX: Therapy Skill Builders.

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