HELP - defining odd speech patterns

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Marguerite, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I've got a curly question for you.

    I'm hoping someone can help me find the appropriate label for difficult child 3's pattern of speech. husband does it too (not as much) and also to a lesser extent, easy child 2/difficult child 2.

    It's worst at the end of the day when medications have worn off; also in the morning before medications kick in, but evenings are worst.

    What it is - there are two main issues.

    1) He will come to me and say something which is interesting to him but not to me. Example - "I dreamt last night that Daisy [pet budgie] got out of her cage and flew away."
    He then will walk out of the room and come back maybe 30 seconds later (not immediately) and add more. "Then in the dream she came back and had another bird with her." He leaves the room again, to go back to what he was doing. But he is back. "This other bird was smaller than Daisy, and a different colour."
    What intrigues me is the pause each time - it's as if he is telling me each thought in sequence as it goes through his head. But the pause i longer than you get in normal conversation. If I'm reading a book, for example, it means I get interrupted each time I read the same sentence. Or maybe I'll get another sentence half-read, before my train of thought gets interrupted.
    If I were having a conversation with him I wouldn't mind so much, even if we're still talking about things not relevant to me, if only he would stay in the room and finish the conversation. But he doesn't seem capable.

    2) He cannot be interrupted, he MUST finish what he starts to say. easy child 2/difficult child 2 will throw a tantrum if interrupted, and yet will not realise she interrupts other people in her zeal to contribute. Example is when she begins to tell a joke we've heard before. We can say, "We've heard it!" We can even utter the punchline, but she still MUST continue and finish what she is saying.
    This evening I was talking on the phone to a friend, she was listening to my side of the conversation. I didn't want my friend to realise she was there (he would then have felt more constrained in what he was saying, and he needed to talk) but I had a very difficult talk trying to signal to her to whisper and not speak loudly; and to be discreet and brief. (Plus, I was trying to continue to listen to my friend, I was aurally multi-tasking, and that's not easy). As she began to speak I realised she was repeating what I had just said to my friend, but in different words; I tried to tell her, "I just said that," but she still had to get to the end of the last sentence of what she was saying.

    3) And the really weird one - difficult child 3 (and husband) has an odd pause when he speaks, mid-sentence. It's as if he is stuck for a word (hey, it happens) but the next thing is NOT normal - he will go back to the beginning of his sentence and start again, instead of merely pausing then putting in the word. Or syllable. No "um"s or "er"s. Just a total restart instead. Sometimes I hear the same sentence four or five times before I get to hear it in completion. difficult child 3 plays the piano the same way - when trying to play music, e would seem to get 'stuck' while trying to work out the next note, and he would either continue to play the note he is on (by hitting the key again and again) or he would go back to the e of the phrase, or even the beginning of the piece of music, and begin to play again. When he was hitting the same (previous) note over and over, his piano teacher tried to tell him, "No, dear, you only play that note once, not three times. It's time to move to the next note." Which, of course, was what he was trying to do, and this would provoke a rage.

    With all these phenomena, trying to correct them or trying to hurry them up provokes meltdown.

    difficult child 3 is getting really bad with all three at the moment. The non-stop talking as if expressing every thought going through his head - that is a big problems for us at the moment especially in the evenings. I'm busy trying to get dinner for everybody and difficult child 3, if he hears me walk past, will call me back to talk. Sometimes he might have something important to say (or ask) so I go back; but a lot of the time he just wants to tell me something which is clearly just his thought of that moment.

    It can be so bad that when I am resting (and with my current extreme fragility he understands I need to rest) he will come in to my room and wake me up, just to tell me that in the computer game he was just playing, he accidentally hit his ally on the head, and his ally hit him back. Then he will leave the room and go back to his game, to come back into the room thirty seconds later... you get the drift.

    We tolerate a lot with our family, but other people are less tolerant of them.

    I have a hard time explaining this to the various doctors we see and when you explain it, it seems so trivial. But there IS something odd, it worries me (and drives me up the wall) and especially in the kids, I would like to find a way to fix it. Or get a name for it. Even possible names. A more formal label which describes it would be a help.

    So - any ideas?

  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    # 3) I suspect is the result of language processing problems. difficult child used to do it all the time except he was younger. He'd stop mid-sentence and it was evident he'd already formulated the whole thought but it got lost before it got out the mouth. He'd "stutter" over the sentence, going back and repeating the beginning. When he was struggling often all it took was for *me* to repeat it for him--as if hearing it helped him to mentally retrieve it.

    Interestingly, SSRI medications cleared up the sentence stutter for him. When we pulled him off due to side effects, he backslid but adjusted fairly quickly afterwards.
  3. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    We deal with 2 & 3 but not 1. I always thought of it as a stall tactic to keep the listener's attention while he organizes his thoughts. It has a compulsiveness to it sometimes like your daughter - the need to get it out before he loses the thought.

    A lot of times he repeats words or phrases to complete a sentence but then the next thought doesn't always relate to the first. It reminds me of those tasks where you have to take mixed up pictures or sentences and put them into a logical sequence. That's how his mind works. You have to let him get all the ideas out and then you can put them into some sort of order. It makes total sense in the end but staying with the process is time consuming and most people don't get it and write him off as weird. I attribute this problem to dyspraxia. Very frustrating for everyone.
  4. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    I noticed the same thing with Wellbutrin. What are you using now?
  5. Marg,

    Both husband and difficult child do all of this. Interestingly, so does husband's sister. She will call, out of the blue, and launch midstream into a thought with no saluation, nothing.... Sometimes it is weeks between phone calls and the conversation, in her mind, hasn't missed a beat. But trust me, for me, it has!

    I feel your frustration. Most people that we know don't have the patience for this sort of thing. Mine runs very thin much of the time. I feel that this is very much an "Aspie" trait and I am very interested in problem solving as to ways to help my folks understand the problem. Right now, they don't see one.
  6. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    My difficult child does some of this and its partly due to not understanding nonverbal communication overly well. She doesn't like to be interrupted by anyone and it drives her crazy if someone does it. However, she has no problems interrupting and does it all the time. She has deficits in understand the flow of conversation and when its appropriate to break in or when its her turn to speak.

    She is also a nonstop talker and I've read that for individuals with nonverbal learning problems, its hard for them to learn from their environment through means other than talking. They talk themselves through almost everything they do and they feel the need to involve other people...for validation I suppose. difficult child sees me (and the others in the house) as her link to the outside world. As she talkes herself through everything she does, she involves us to make sure she's doing it right. When you mentioned difficult child having to tell you what happens with his game, it reminded me of mine having to tell me everything she does. She's not really trying to start conversations with me....just inform me. I think to feel connected in some way.

    It can be very very annoying because I feel I'm being "jabbered" to death some days and I just want a few minutes of peace. You are right, others don't understand the quirks and are much less tolerant.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Mrs. Smith, no anxiety medications currently and hoping it stays that way. Celexa had bad side effects, Zoloft even worse. We decided we'd have to be desperater than desperate to go that route again and thankfully he's responded well to other interventions.

    There is a study somewhere out there showing that SSRI's can bring about improvement in language processing, and that with some kids the improvements stick.
  8. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    The only thing that difficult child 2 has in common with the odd speech patterns you are describing is that difficult child 2, like difficult child 3 and easy child 2/difficult child 2, MUST finish what he wants to say whether anyone is listening or even remotely interested in what he is talking about. If I tell difficult child 2 that I'm busy and don't have time to listen to what he is saying as he has already told me the same thing a zillion times, he'll continue to talk out loud even after I've left him. He'll continue to talk to himself until he has finished every last word of what he wanted to say. difficult child 2 has told me in the past that it doesn't matter if anyone is listening or interested, he just likes to talk!!!

    difficult child 2 not only repeats himself constantly, but also repeats what others say. He has never outgrown his echolalia (I'm not even going to try to attempt to spell this correctly!) We can't get him to stop doing this.

    difficult child 2 even talks out loud when he is in his room by himself. He not only talks to his stuffed animals, but also he'll talk to himself when he is doing something. For example, he'll say out loud, "Now I have to put away my clean laundry so I can get my Reward." Sometimes he just "babbles" without saying anything that makes any sense at all.

    I'm sorry that I don't have any useful advice. I do understand how annoying this is!!! I also understand your concern because you're definitely right - Not many people are tolerant of this type of behavior.

    I hope someone comes along who has some good advice for you. I'll be following this post too. WFEN
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    WFEN, you said, " If I tell difficult child 2 that I'm busy and don't have time to listen to what he is saying as he has already told me the same thing a zillion times, he'll continue to talk out loud even after I've left him. He'll continue to talk to himself until he has finished every last word of what he wanted to say."

    Yes, that is definitely familiar. It's not an audience they need (although easy child 2/difficult child 2 will throw a tantrum if she feels she hasn't had a fair hearing) but the need to finish uttering the sentence, once begun. husband will often begin to talk and walk away, still talking. These days he often is simply voicing his thoughts and knows it's not intended for anybody in particular, but it can be frustrating when he thinks he's told me something, and I simply didn't hear it because it was voiced at a mutter from several rooms away.

    My biggest concern is the breaks in uttering a sentence where he goes back to the beginning. It's been a problem for husband as long as I've known him; friends know to not try to help him. It only makes the problem worse. For difficult child 3 it really is interfering with his communication quite badly. It also is perhaps the biggest reason why he cannot progress as a piano player, despite his astounding musical aptitude. So this problem goes beyond verbal communication. SRL, it is the piano playing as well that makes me think this is more than just language processing, although what you describe does sound very similar. Also, I don't dare 'help' - I'd get my head bitten off. All I can do is wait until he gets the sentence out. I do wonder if any of them even realise how bad the problem is - I think husband does, but the kids just don't seem to notice that nobody else does this. For them, it's normal. With easy child 2/difficult child 2, a lot of her problem (much milder) could be simply put down to her known word retrieval problem.

    We all have trouble finding a word sometimes. easy child 2/difficult child 2 has big trouble with word-finding (and accepts this) but most people will substitute "um" and "ah" (or similar) as a means to keep the vocal output fluent. As a child I remember being nagged to not say "um" and "ah", but to make sure I had my thoughts straight in my head before I spoke. But difficult child 3 never had this, so I don't think this is husband's response to the same sort of early education I had. Plus, his father used to do this too. He spoke slowly, almost cautiously. And if he was interrupted, he could get very irritable and would sometimes refuse to continue the conversation. He was a lovely man, this seemed almost out of character for him. husband & difficult child 3 are both very like him in many ways.

    SSRIs - husband & difficult child 3 can't cope with them. difficult child 1 can, but surprisingly doesn't seem to have this problem. Neither does easy child. Not in the slightest.

    So in our family, the problem is either there in a big way, or totally absent.

    We do have close contact with a good Speech Pathologist but although she is a good friend and darn good at what she does, I can never pin her down to do a job for us, or give us a report. I also can't pin her down to give us an account, either, so at least she's not costing us money for nothing. I'd like to see if a good Speech Pathologist could sort this out for us, but the last time I saw someone (other than my friend) with the kids, I got absolutely nothing useful (it was for difficult child 1 - he does have some issues with written communication). So I'm reluctant to just pick up the phone book and ring around local therapists. What I need is some pointer as to who we can see, what therapies we can put in place; and for that, we also need - what the H do you call this?

    It sounds like we're definitely not alone with this. So anything we learn will definitely be of use to other people on this board.

    Please keep your thinking caps on, and thanks so much for the feedback so far.

  10. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    I thought about this thread last night when my 6 yr. old easy child was yacking at me. He doesn't start back at the beginning when he's interrupted...not much anyway so I put him at normal there. But, he's a nonstop talker and is also one that NEEDS to finish what he's saying whether anyone is listening or not. Its usually something to do with what he's building with his lego's and he goes into great length on what he's built and what its for. Even if I tell him he needs to wait until I'm done doing what I'm doing, he goes right on talking until he's done. He does this with movies too. God forbid anyone ask him about the last movie he watched or they're going to get an earful and a half and he won't stop....even if someone breaks in and tries to change the subject. We've had other family members and friends comment on this so we know its at least a little out of the "normal" range. Hmmmmm....just thinking thats all. Interesting thread.
  11. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    difficult child 2 doesn't have the problem where there are breaks in uttering the sentence and starting over from the beginning. I can only imagine how frustrating and annoying this is, not to mention how concerned you are over this. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no knowledge in what this is called or how to help. I hope you find someone who can help you with this soon!!! WFEN
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    M, instead of asking us who aren't inside the heads of someone with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), why don't you pose this question to those who are. The Wrong Planet site if packed with adults with AS who often are very helpful in trying to "translate" what's going on with family member of persons with AS and share what's helped them.

    If you do post, I suggest posting from an informational standpoint only. Don't expect any sympathy if you mention the behaviors are driving you crazy.

    This is an excellent site for trying to get a grasp of AS in adults:
  13. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I remember when easy child was around 10, he and all his friends talked like that. Drove me nuts. difficult child does it too. But so do all his friends. I believe it is the age.
  14. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    This is an interesting thread. I'm sorry I don't have any real wisdom to share. Sounds like many of us could use it!

    I've had students in past years with similar problems. They've had Language processing problems (this can show up in things that don't seem to be related to language) and / or cognitive problems. When it came to speaking (and often, many other things) these kids seemed to have trouble thinking. Often they would go back to the beginning because that was the only way they could get "unstuck". As someone mentioned, when they get stuck you can repeat it back for them and often that will help. These kids they received speech services in school that would help them work on it. Could you request the school test the kids for any language (or other) processing problems?

    This is the one area that will predictably cause my easy child to have meltdowns. He simply must say what he feels he needs to say. If you don't let him you can actually see the frustration rise to the boiling point. Then you get tears and he's screaming whatever it is he wanted to say. It gets said anyway.

    As he's gotten older this has improved. We really only see it now when he's "pleading his case" or feels he's received unjust treatment. An example would be we want him to do something that for whatever reason he's decided that his brother should have to do it. He'll offer his reason as to why this is, we listen but don't agree and tell him he has to do it. He'll continue to pleas his case, we'll get sick of hearing it as we want HIM to do it and tell him that's enough, no more discussion, etc. He will melt down. Unlike difficult child his meltdown won't last very long and he'll run off to his room to cry and pout. When he's done he'll still tell us whatever he had to say and then accept that he didn't get his way.

    Much of the time now we can just let him get out what he has to say, repeat what his point of view is, reiterate our stance, listen to him again, tell him we're doing it our way and he'll be mad, maybe even a few tears that he'll try to hide, but do what we've asked. This has come up in school too. Luckily he seldom gets into trouble, but if he does he must have his say. This usually happens with his sp. ed. resource teacher and she knows she has to let him say it and then move on (he had her last year in elem. school and she moved to the jr high where he got her again - she is a true blessing).

    This is much less severe that the original problem posted. Also, it's getting better with maturity. I figure it goes along with his tendency to obsess on things - also improving, slowly. However, I can sympathize with the annoyance of it all. What should have taken a few seconds turns into a 30 min ordeal. He used to talk non stop too. We'd try to play the quiet game and he'd talk about being quiet!

    easy child does have some learning disabilities that interfered with his ability to play the piano - we had to quit lessons. He has some visual sequencial problems. He couldn't tell the b's from the d's and would get the order of the notes mixed up. Unfotrunately he remembers that as a failure and now that he's greatly improved these areas (it's been 5 years) he won't go back to the piano.

    Best of luck to everyone!
  15. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    My difficult child does this sort of thing all the time. He talks his thoughts, and repeats words and phrases over and over. If you explain that it's not a good time for conversation, he will continue to talk until he has finished what he has to say, whether anyone is there to listen or not.

    difficult child also seems to do the same thing with music. When he is playing the piano, he will play the same note over and over. Even when he's playing music on his stereo, he will play a phrase or a bit of a song over and over and over. (He has killed my enjoyment of several former favourite songs this way)

    With regard to the speech pattern, I have this pattern as well. I can't start talking out loud until the thought has formed in my head completely. If I get interrupted in midstream, I have to go back to the beginning and start again. It's almost like the thought is a computer program that has to execute. Once it's started it has to run all the way through to completion. If it's interrupted, you have to start it again in order to get it to work properly.

    If I'm speaking to someone with whom I'm very comfortable (husband and one or 2 very close friends), I can start talking before the thought has formed, but I have to talk very slowly. It's like sending a large document to a printer...part of it spools, I can speak it out loud, then the rest fills in and I can speak that part, until the whole thought is complete. Again, if I get interrupted, it all falls to pieces. If I'm speaking on the fly and get interrupted, I usually have great difficulty reassembling the thought. Since the thought didn't get fully formed in my head, I'm not quite sure how the pieces of it fit together.

    It does seem to be a very Aspie trait. (Seeing this thread actually makes me feel much better, as I thought it was just a flaw in my own ability to think and process information)

  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks for the insight, Trinity.

    SRL, thanks for the link. I only logged on briefly because I really must go out (a client to visit, urgently - she's sending me frequent emails and I only live a kilometre away). I'll check it out in detail later on and post in detail there. A good suggestion.

    Weatheringthestorm (and maybe trinity) - if there is a possibility of a reading disorder where it's connected to the eyes not properly tracking from left to right (a common subset of dyslexia, as well as in other disorders) I developed a cheap little therapy:

    You buy one of those clear plastic balls which has another, decorated, ball inside it floating on clear fluid. These balls are distinctive - when you roll them, the inner ball (which is weighted) stays showing the same face all the time. I like the eyeball ones especially. You roll them, and it looks like na eyeball is SLIDING across the table, not rolling, because it's constantly staring back at you. Get an eyeball one if you can, I think "making eye contact" with it would make this work faster.
    But if you can't get one of these, any bright-coloured ball would do.

    The trick - you get the child to roll the ball from left hand to right hand, along the edge of the table where he is sitting. The child catches the ball with his right hand, passes it back to the left UNDER THE TABLE and repeats.
    The aim of this exercise is to re-train the brain to get used to tracking left to right. (Note: Readers of Arabic should roll the ball right to left).

    To train the brain takes repetition. The more repetition, the faster the brain re-programs. You're not only working on external eye muscles, you're also working on the visual cortex of the brain. Depending on how severe the problem is, you may need more, or less, repetition.

    My suggestion - small brackets of maybe 5 to 10 rolls, as many times a day as the kid can stand but at least three times a day. And they must maintain eye contact with the ball.

    It shouldn't be too hard to develop a computer package to do the same job, maybe in a more fun way. Perhaps before a simple reading exercise, the computer could re-train the brain to track correctly, before giving the reading task.
    Maybe something to get difficult child 3 developing? I suspect IT is his potential career path...

    Gotta dash.

    Client awaits.

  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    SRL, I've finally posted on the other site, I will let you all know if there is any more information, any new suggestions.

    Here's hoping!

  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Marg, that ball sounds like a blast. It's the sort of thing I could mesmerize myself with for hours.

    I definitely do not have dyslexia, and I'm pretty certain that eye tracking is not an issue for me. I was able to read and write at a very early age, and apparently had quite a case of Little Professor-itis when I was very little (lecturing guests on the rules of the house when I was 2, that sort of thing).

    The tape-looping phenomenon seems to happen only when I'm trying to say something out loud. Funny...after reading this thread yesterday, I caught myself forming a thought that I was about to speak, and tried to pay close attention to what was going on in my head.

    The thought appeared fully formed in my mind. I had an idea of what I wanted to say, but I had to sit and parse it for a moment, before I could make it clear to myself. I worked it through, realized that it wasn't exactly right, and then re-did the beginning of the thought. Once that was done, I re-did the ending a few times, then spooled the whole thing through in my head 2 or 3 times until I was sure of it.

    Only then did I go and find my husband and tell him what I had been thinking. The whole process took about 3 minutes, not including speaking the thought out loud.

    It's akin to the process others use when they make drafts of written communication before sending off the final version. Strangely, when I write, I can just spill my thoughts and they seem to come out clearly. The processing difficulty is a bit like translating something from one language to another in my head. I have to translate the written thought into a verbal form before I can say it.

    You've mentioned that your difficult child 3's first language was the written word. I wonder if he's "translating" written into spoken, the same way I do?

    All the best,
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Trinity, I suspect he is. Temple Grandin describes her autism as "Thinking in Pictures", but I think difficult child 3 thinks in pictures with subtitles.

    The problem is worse in the evenings, when he's more talkative anyway. It could be that when he's more likely to be verbally expressing each thought as it arises, that he's taking less care. He has recently changed to Concerta from taking a privately compounded SR dex. I'm about to go for a short walk (dragging him with me) to visit his younger autistic friend and his mother, so I can talk to her and compare notes. He has also recently started on Concerta (same paediatrician - I gave her the name) and I want to see how he is going.

    Feedback from wrongplanet (thanks, SRL) has been a lot of "me, too" and a very useful post describing echolalia (which I understand) and palilalia (which I'd never heard of, but which seems to fit). I'm still digging into info about it.

    Interesting responses there, though - crikey, some of them are really militant about labels and being considered "abnormal", "disabled" etc to such an extreme that I think they go overboard - the expectation in some cases seems to be that society has to adapt to accept THEM, they shouldn't have to make any adjustments. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Fair or not, we all have to adapt to fit in because society won't change unless we make the changes ourselves. We can't sit around and exclude ourselves while waiting for change.
    I've always considered myself to be a bit more supportive and militant on behalf of my children, than I know some other parents would be/have been. I don't let my kids think of themselves as disabled in any way, although I make it clear that if society is prepared to accept such a label and it can be used to their advantage, to go ahead and use it without feeling bad about themselves. I consider autism spectrum to simply be a different way of brain processing of information. It has some advantages and some disadvantages. There is no "better" or 'worse" overall, but there is clearly "difference" because the kids perceive this in themselves. Whether it is naughty, bad society which makes these kids feel different, or my bad parenting, or their own observations on their interactions with their peers - they work this out for themselves and we need to accommodate this in how we help them.

    I still feel it is my job to help my kids adapt, as far as they need to to live the life they choose.

    I do feel that those who refuse to acknowledge the need to adapt under any circumstances, are reducing their potential quality of life and limiting their opportunities.

    I did post as much - it could be a case of "light blue touch paper, stand well back."

    But they really are a fascinating lot, the range of discussions they all have.

    So, info to date - lets Google "palilalia" and see if it fits.

  20. Mrs Smith

    Mrs Smith New Member

    Marg - WrongPlanet is predominantly visited by teens and young adults. There's a group of older people under the section "In-Depth Adult Life Discussions". You might get more info there.

    Thanks SRL - good to hear your difficult child is doing well without medications. What interventions have you found helpful for this issue?