Odd speech patterns - some answers?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Marguerite, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I mentioned on my earlier thread on this topic, that I had been given the term "palilalia" as a possibly appropriate term. A more appropriate, blanket term is "disfluency". Sometimes spelt as "dysfluency". This covers a range of speech issues including stuttering.

    I'm continuing to dig on this, but following the leads has brought me this far. It is also important to keep in mind that we must be careful to not try to change something which may actually be needed as a coping strategy. It's like trying to stop a kid from stimming - sometimes they need to stimulant. If you stop one kind of stimulant, another is likely to emerge.

    Back to disfluency - I found a speech pathology site, I'm only on the edge of it and I do need to go to bed and get some sleep. But I've bookmarked it and will do more digging tomorrow.

    In the meantime, to consider - when we speak, we try to continue a smooth flow. We need to get our thoughts in order, formulate what we wish to say, then hold it in place while we speak. As we speak our thought patterns can change, If we are interrupted we need to be able to not only listen to the other person, but continue to hold the thought we were expressing, as well as perhaps modify that thought and develop a new line of communication.

    This is complex. If you have any difficulty mentally multi-tasking, you will have problems here of varying kinds. But there are other problems here also, since difficult child 3 is quite bad with this disfluency (for want of a more specific term) and yet is good at multi-tasking.

    We've all encountered the person who tunes out when someone else is speaking and who is merely waiting for a break in speech ion order to jump in with what they are sitting on, waiting to say. You can never argue with people like this because they are not able to pay attention, AND formulate their response at the same time.

    What I'm dealing with is on a bigger scale. It's as if their own thoughts are interfering with their ability to flow their speech. Once temporarily derailed, they repeat the word, the phrase or the sentence, as if they can snag a ride and continue through the block by sheer momentum. And when that doesn't work, they try it again. And again.

    husband was trained out of using um and er, which are common, socially acceptable (when not over-used) ways to maintain fluency of conversation when briefly stuck for the next word. Would he have been worse? Or better? I also was trained out of it but I'm still capable of fluent speech, despite increasing cognitive dysfunction. In fact, I'm better than most - I can think fast on my feet, listen to the other argument, formulate my reply AND deliver it with very few, if any, fluency lubricators. difficult child 1, with his known memory problems and poor multi-tasking, can do it too. So it's not just a cognitive issue, nor is it entirely a multi-tasking issue, nor a linguistic one. This is complex. I also think it could have deeper implications, in how we lay down memory, for example. Therefore, the answers here could be very important.

    A lot of us appear to be affected by this either because of personally exhibiting this, or a family member has it.

    All ideas, please pool them here. I will do more digging in the morning and report back as I discover more titbits.

  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What I'm finally getting, is that we're dealing with a number of problems. I'm not sure if I have the correct terms (or even if there ARE specific terms) but I HAVE found some descriptors which work, for now.

    "Stuttering" is something which develops after the child has already been speaking normally for some time. A child doesn't stutter from their first word.

    "Disfluency" seems to be something we've seen from the beginning. It is what I describe - the person breaks what is being said and often goes back to say it again, or something modified. It's very hard to listen to and is clearly interfering with clear communication. HOWEVER, you can get this in an individual while they are also echolalic, but generally the echolalia will be fluent.
    For example, difficult child 3 will repeat huge chunks of text from a movie, he will walk around the house spouting dialogue, but when he is trying to talk to me about something I get the disjointed, interrupted, "go back to the beginning and see if I can say it better" kind of speech.

    Where a child is still learning to talk, any disfluency should be tolerated. it is more important to allow the child to communicate in ANY way, than to impose a sense of anxiety or tension on top of what is already difficult.

    Disfluencies can be related to tension in the speaker, or they may not. Reducing tension is always a good idea, but it will not fix all disfluncies. There seems to be a language component as well.

    There is some discussion, the jury seems to be out, on how much this is part of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and how much it just is. Problems with laungage processing, problems of mental disconnectedness in the brain - surely has to play a part.

    difficult child 3 was given an exercise to do by the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) we worked with for a while. Then we found the "20Q" game ball and it was doing the same sort of exercise, which involved rebuilding connectedness in concepts within the brain. This increases capability with word retrieval. Plus, they are a lot of fun.

    I also came across a reference to "monologueing". The name comes from the tendency of cartoon villains to yammer on about how puny the hero is and how wonderful they (the villains) are, at a most inopportune time, just long enough for the hero to wriggle out of the impossible situation. I think the first reference is in "The Incredibles" when Frozone is talking about a narrow escape. But it applies beautifully to difficult child 3's (and easy child 2/difficult child 2's) way of holding court on a topic the rest of us really couldn't give a hoot about, often at a really inappropriate moment.

    I still haven't got a label for the insistence they have on finishing what they are saying. I really want to find that, as well as a way to help them over this hurdle.

    The search continues!

  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    FWIW, here's a type of disfluency we've dealt with:

    Both difficult child's, and easy child to a lesser extent, would get stuck mid-word. Never the same word. Never the same amount of syllables. Never anything consistent, except that it was worse as medications wore off and when they were tired. easy child only did it until she was about 6. difficult child 1 did it until he was about 10 or 11. difficult child 2 is just now coming out of it. I mentioned it to speech therapists, Occupational Therapist (OT)'s, the school, pediatrician, psychiatrist, whomever would listen. No one thought much of it, but at the time, it was really bugging me because I didn't understand it and no one could really explain it very well to me.

    Here's an example of what would happen. difficult child would say something like:

    "I went to the sto-o-o-ore the other day with my friend and we we we bought we bought some candy."

    The pause was almost always mid-word, or involved repetition of a word or phrase. Never at the start of a word, never on a particular sound. What I finally got was this had more to do with difficult child's processing, and that in time it should smooth out, which, I'm thankful to say, it has.
  4. ML

    ML Guest

    my difficult child does the movie monologues as well. Also, he'll use snippets of langauage he learned from TV shows. The other day I was talking to him about having to do homework and he goes "yeah, about that...."

    Also, he has trouble saying is "r's". Is that part of the odd speech patterns that we're talking about or is that something different?
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The mid-word disfluency sounds like an atypical stutter. Most stutters are at the beginning of the word. Was it consonants, or vowels or just random?

    The other things to consider - are there any physical behaviours that go along with the language thing? Not in our case, but some stutterers have a tension about them associated with the stutter.

    Michele, the "r" problem is something different. Is that for ALL his speech, or only the stuff he is ad-libbing? With the sort of disfluency I'm talking about here, rehearsed speech has no problem. It would be interesting to try to map the manifestations of your son's problem - under what circumstances, etc. Also, how long he's had the problem.

    Some very special people have problems saying their 'r's. My favourite author Terry Pratchett, for one.

    I spoke to the speech pathologist today, she's going to try to test difficult child 3 maybe next week. I know she is very busy; I'll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, I'm going to get him playing 20Q, to at least help him speed up his word association links to aid recall.

  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Could you look and see if they have any info on a child reversing their opposites in speech?

    Like Nichole often says, "Please turn off the light." When she wants you to turn on the light. She knows what she means to say, it just doesn't come out of her mouth that way.

    I've asked tons of docs about this as she's had it since she first started talking. She used to do it in writing too by the way, but doesn't now.

    I'm told it is a major red flag for the dyslexia. Yet I've never heard any other people refer to their child having/or having had it.

    Just curious.

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    This is a feature we observed in difficult child 3. It was a phase he went through as he was getting over his echolalia and learning better communication. It is not uncommon in autism, for a child to go through this stage.

    Part of this comes from the initial difficulty an autistic child has in working out the different ways we say "you", "I", etc. It comes out of the mimicry that they use A LOT as they are trying to learn.

    For example, the baby game difficult child 3 could never play, teaches babies while they're still at the babbling stage, ""where is baby's nose? No, where is Mummy's nose? Where is baby's mouth? Where is mummy's mouth?"
    In this way, the baby is learning the difference between "baby" and "mummy". But you notice - we still talk to baby in the third person. It's easier for a baby to follow. First/second person is much harder to follow and we tend to use that a little later in a baby's development. What we do is almost instinctive - have you noticed?

    But in difficult child 3's case (as an example of an autistic child) he would even at age 5, get reversal wrong. He would talk about himself in the third person, as in "difficult child 3 likes bananas."
    If I said, "you are going to the playground," he would be confused and think I meant that I was going to the playground.
    It was about this stage that I noticed also the word reversal. Because he was confusing a number of word sets, a few more seemed to fall into the mix. And of course, this just added to the raging. I might ask, "Would you like juice or lemonade?" and when he answered, "Lemonade" and that is what I got him, he would rage because he had MEANT juice and in his mind, I was privy to every thought in his head and should have KNOWN what he meant.

    Remember, he is amazingly fluent now, to such an extent that a website he posts on regularly draws comments like, "How old are you REALLY? Stop pretending you're only 13." Of course, he doesn't understand why seeming older on a teen website could be a problem for other people!

    As I say, difficult child 3 moved through this stage. Your daughter seems stuck in it. I will definitely look into it as best as I can, see what I can find. My understanding of dyslexia is that it is complex with a number of factors and causes (in terms of how the brain functions). My previous therapy suggestion of rolling an "eye" ball across from left to right then transferring it back to the left hand under the table, and repeating - it really is only valid where the eyes are not programmed into tracking left to right as you should when you read a line of text. Someone with a tracking problem will have eyes flitting over the whole page, so the text that reaches the brain is hopelessly out of order. Often someone like this has a prior problem of not recognising letter reversal - they will confuse lower case "b" and "d" about half the time. if they get it wrong ALL the time, then they clearly can see the difference, they just have identified them wrongly and need to re-learn.

    Is what your daughter is doing, a red flag for dyslexia? Maybe, if it is connected to incomplete brain dominance or something similar. She's getting confused by opposites. But I don't think so. It might be a good idea to get her seen by a speech pathologist to get more detail on exactly why she is doing this and what you can do.

    What I would do in the meantime - as long as it doesn't cause meltdowns (Ross Greene methods again), I would check and rehearse each time, help her rehearse the right way to say it. Do it gently. You may need to negotiate doing this with her ahead of time, so she is cooperative and doesn't see this as you being overcritical.
    By rehearsing the correct statement, she may hopefully learn new habits (the right ones). Tell her it's like practising lines for a school play, give her lots of encouragement and praise.

    Thinking cap is now on.

  8. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Originally Posted By: Marguerite
    The mid-word disfluency sounds like an atypical stutter. Most stutters are at the beginning of the word. Was it consonants, or vowels or just random?

    The other things to consider - are there any physical behaviours that go along with the language thing? Not in our case, but some stutterers have a tension about them associated with the stutter.


    The dysfluencies were usually on vowel or vowel/consonant combos ("er", "es", "in", "end", etc.), and they were almost always mid-word. I did notice tension -- which seemed to worsen with each progressive break in the language, as if difficult child was getting stuck. He might have a pause in the fourth or fifth word, and then it would just get worse as he continued to struggle to get his thoughts out. Like a scratch in a record. He'd try to go back and start over when the breaks became too many.

    Again, I think it really is a processing issue in our case, and it seems to resolve as their brain matures. But it sure was frustrating and concerning when we were seeing things at their peak a few years ago.

    Can you post the link to the speech site you found?

    Hope it gives you some answers and some peace of mind!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The disfluencies you describe sound a bit similar to the ones we see here. Sometimes these are just syllables, often whole words or phrases. And for us, it's clearly not going to go away as the brain matures - husband is over 50 now and he feels he's getting worse.

    The link to the article is complex. I first found the Q & A, then I dug around to find the article (it's actually on two separate links).

    Here's the article, Part I -

    The article, Part II -

    I sent it all to our Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), she said she knows these people and their work.

    I hope the articles and discussion give you some ideas.

    On the subject of a child using antonyms instead of the correct word - I'm still looking but here's what I've got so far:
    A quote from there - "If you listen closely to how people speak, you will discover that a common speech error is the substitution of a word for its antonym, "It's too cold in here—I mean, hot." This suggests to linguists that one way that we retrieve words from our mental vocabulary is to look for semantic relations and antonymy ... is one of the relationships by which our brains organize words."

    I'll keep digging on this one, but again, without a short, simple description, it's hard to search for.

  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Thanks for the input. :smile:

    As for practicing with her.....We've done it her whole life. I automatically correct/or ask for a correction from her. Why? Becasue like you said with your difficult child, when she was younger it caused some awful meltdowns because we were expected to know what she meant.

    Nichole isn't sensitive about it at all. (however she did go thru a stage when she was) This quirk of hers has been met with amusement by the rest of the family for years simply because we've grown so used to it. I think our attitude toward it helps it not be a serious/sensitive subject for her.

    Practicing putting in the correct word doesn't work. She can do it when you correct her/ask her to correct herself. But in normal speech it goes right back to the way she's always said it.

    As far as writing/reading, Nichole has always had the letter reversal problem. Also her letters tend to get "jumbled" in words longer than 3-4 letters, turning a word like Jumbled into Julmbed. Learning to read and spell happened with many many hours, tears, and meltdowns. Numbers are the same way. Made math a nitemare.

    I have to keep in mind Nichole has the diagnosis of static encephalopathy (very very mild according to neuro). But it is so mild that I often forget she even has the diagnosis.

    This is some interesting stuff. The brain and how it works/and often doesn't work can be amazing.