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Silently "Re-Mouthing" Words After Speaking Them
September 6, 2010 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Is there a known condition that makes people (mostly children) silently repeat, with their mouths, the last word of a sentence (right after they've uttered that word)?
posted by Quisp Lover to Science & Nature (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Like... constantly, or sporadically? Because Lil' Thumbscrew has been doing this sporadically for years. We figured it was a product of being bright and hyper-verbal and attempting to "imprint" words on his brain. It's decreased as he's gotten older.
posted by julthumbscrew at 4:42 PM on September 6, 2010


Echolalia is when that happens for something being said to a person. IE, if I'd read the previous sentence to you out loud, and you repeated "said to a person" directly after I'd finished speaking, I'd be inclined to believe you had echolalia. There's a link from that wiki article to another one on the more generalized topic of speech repetition, might make for some illuminating reading.
posted by carsonb at 4:42 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Julthumbscrew:
Sporadic, and indeed iit's one of those things that decreases with age. And it's unconscious (I did it as a kid, and didn't realize until it was pointed out to me).

carsonb:
It's a silent repetition....a "mouthing".....and only of the last word or two spoken (and spoken by the same person who's doing the repeating!).
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:46 PM on September 6, 2010


I'm in my twenties, and I still do this slightly on occasion. Don't really know why.
posted by limeonaire at 4:50 PM on September 6, 2010


cool....einstein did it, too: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Speech-Disorders-987/f/son-repeats-word-sentences.htm

I can't get through that entire thread right now, but what I gleaned are that the following conditions are tossed around in such instances:

Palilalia
Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Mild Tourette's, OCD, or Autism

....or merely perfectionism (it's apparently a sign of thoughtfulness and intelligence).

I share the observation with many posters in that thread that it's most common under stress
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:54 PM on September 6, 2010


Sorry, I'm livening the link mentioned above for your convenience. A wealth of info....and, alas, chatty filler:
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:55 PM on September 6, 2010


Argh.

The Thread I'm Talking About
posted by Quisp Lover at 4:56 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have OCD and used to do this sort of thing all the time as a kid. Repetitive activity is a common symptom.

I'm not saying that your child has OCD. I suppose what I am saying is to make sure this behaviour isn't caused by stress or anxiety. OCD folks repeat things as a sort of superstitious thing...if your child looks extra-worried about other stuff, you might want to investigate. If not, then it's something else.
posted by hiteleven at 5:00 PM on September 6, 2010


When I was a kid, the mean kids on my block used to always insist that I did this. I swore up and down that I Did Not. I had no idea what they were talking about. Now I'm thinking that maybe I really did it, after all.
posted by Sara C. at 5:02 PM on September 6, 2010


I used to do this as a kid, if I liked the way those words made my mouth move. I can't say when I stopped doing it but don't remember being older than 9 or so.
posted by tracicle at 5:08 PM on September 6, 2010


Well, to give you more information to go on re: my little data point, I do have (undiagnosed, but definitely present) OCD of a sort, but it's not related to repeating things. Like the whispering, I've learned to better notice when I'm doing my OCD thing and shut it down—but I still find myself doing both without realizing it.

Possibly related: I can completely shut out sound when I'm really deeply into something I'm reading (though sadly, I achieve that state less and less lately), and I can't write or edit anything (I'm an editor by trade) when I'm listening to most music. (Which sucks, 'cause listening to music is one of the ways I relax.)
posted by limeonaire at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I also have grapheme-color synesthesia. So as you can see, the verbal pathways in my brain are all twined up with a lot of different things.
posted by limeonaire at 5:18 PM on September 6, 2010


Mild OCD. Done it my whole life. Nothing superstitious about it-- it isn't ritualized, I do not believe bad shit will go down if I stop. I'm not usually aware of it at all, actually. Other people point it out.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 5:22 PM on September 6, 2010


Curiosity. Trying to figure out how the mouth makes the sounds it does, how words "work" aurally. For me, it was something like "Why does the word "haiku" have two syllables, but a and i are unique sounds?" followed by making lots of weird vowel shapes when I thought about it at all.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 5:45 PM on September 6, 2010


"Growing up."

*grins* Ok, I don't mean to be snarky, but do remember that young children are still figuring out an awful lot of stuff that we've had time to get used to. I think an above poster had a good idea about watching the kid for other signs of distress, worry, and anxiety, but don't worry too much about it otherwise.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:03 PM on September 6, 2010


Like the youngest kid in the sitcom The Middle perhaps? I thought that was portrayed as mild Palilalia. Although, in the tv show, it's more of a whisper.
posted by lundman at 6:05 PM on September 6, 2010


My 11 year old does this pretty frequently and has for years (i.e. since...age 3-4?). And denies doing it when asked. He was tested for Asperger's as a 2-3 year old but was found to have nothing.

Once in a while I'll repeat something someone else said and I know exactly why: Replaying a buffer. I didn't really HEAR what they said, so if I get my mouth to repeat the sounds, I can reprocess it. Sometimes I send the reprocess request consciously and sometimes I find my mouth repeating something (quietly) and think...hey, who said those words to me? OMG they are important!! In more recent years, the re-mouthing is virtual (i.e. the buffer is completely internal) but it still feels and is used the same.
posted by DU at 6:36 PM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My brother did this as a child. Doctor's said it was a mild form of Echolalia. He's perfectly normal (no autism, aspergers, etc). He grew out of it around age 12 or 13.
posted by shew at 6:50 PM on September 6, 2010


Pardon the digression, but, limeonaire:

The shutting out ability is a level of what yogis call samadhi. It's cool that it has come naturally to you, and you can reestablish it (and more) via meditation. This is the most stripped down, unsuperstitious, efficacious method I've ever found (here's a free summary, enough to get started).

As for no music while working, that's a feature, not a bug. It's evidence of your unusual concentration and focus. A good thing. No one can truly focus on two things at once; those who appear to (e.g. listening to music while working) are dividing their attention, and they are unable to ever achieve the one-pointedness you get even at your baseline.
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:50 PM on September 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, I used to do that a lot as a kid. My parents thought I was nuts. I'd repeat sentences under my breath if the words "tasted" good in my mouth. Or if I was dissatisfied with how something came out, I'd play with it, experimenting on which words to stress. I've never been diagnosed with OCD or anything, but I'm a pretty verbal kid.
posted by estlin at 7:04 PM on September 6, 2010


Seconding echolalia.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 7:41 PM on September 6, 2010


I distinctly remember being teased about that once when I was about 7 by a friend. Not like mercilessly mocked, or anything, just a brief mention. I hadn't realized I did that until then, and made myself stop over the next I don't know how long.
posted by ctmf at 7:51 PM on September 6, 2010


He repeats his own words, right, not others' words spoken to him? Like Jimmy Two-times? 'Cause that's what I did.
posted by ctmf at 7:54 PM on September 6, 2010


Interesting question, all I can add is "Brick".
posted by HuronBob at 7:58 PM on September 6, 2010


My husband does something quite similar - but mostly when he's thinking through a response and self-editing (particularly about something stressful/complicated). Happens maybe every other week or so. He is completely oblivious to the behavior, even though his lips are very clearly shaping entire sentences. For all I know, he's repeating the thought "verbally" to try it out - but since he professes to have no idea what he was thinking/saying whenever I ask him about it, it's hard to tell.

I'd ask his mom if it's something he's always done, except then she'd worry about it for the next decade or two, so *shrug*.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:35 PM on September 6, 2010


Yes, I was teased about it as a kid, too. If I hadn't been, I'd never have known. Unfortunately, you stop receiving that sort of feedback when you mostly hang around with grownups, who conclude you're weird without offering any helpful mirroring. So I think I'm still doing it, but nobody's telling me.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:36 PM on September 6, 2010


According to IMDB, the Harry Potter kids did this a lot.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:54 PM on September 6, 2010


There's a kid on my street who does this, particularly when he's really excited about the topic he's discussing. He's got some divergent cognition in some other ways, too (your standard super-bright C+ student, doesn't turn in his homework, does spend hours on his hands and knees following ant trails for the better part of a mile), but his parents THANK GOD decided to quit trying to have him "diagnosed" and have started looking at what makes him tick instead. Sometimes he does it audibly, sometimes silently. Palilalia is what his neuropsych labeled it.
posted by KathrynT at 12:03 AM on September 7, 2010


No one can truly focus on two things at once; those who appear to (e.g. listening to music while working) are dividing their attention, and they are unable to ever achieve the one-pointedness you get even at your baseline.

Ummmm....false. I find music shuts off the words in my brain and lets me do things like drawing, building and even writing long bits of not-too-algorithmy code in a LOT more focused and concentrated manner.
posted by DU at 5:52 AM on September 7, 2010


I've done this all my life, sometimes just words, sometimes entire sentences. What it's called officially I don't know, but when asked about it I've always answered that I'm just "practicing my speech." It's always seemed to be the reasonable answer based on some other related quirks: the fact that I often experiment with different inflections and pronounciations when I re-speak, and my brain's regular "rehearsals" of likely future conversations in advance when my head seems otherwise un-occupied.
posted by Pufferish at 6:55 AM on September 7, 2010


My boyfriend does this - and doesn't realize he's doing it.
He usually does this when he's nervous.

He is fine otherwise.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:05 AM on September 7, 2010


Is this what that kid, Brick, is supposed to be doing on the sitcom The Middle?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 AM on September 7, 2010


I'm with DU - I can't listen to music during tasks that involve intense linear-thinking concentration (writing an essay, for instance). However, a long walk with my iPod and headphones is great when I need to step outside my normal way of thinking about a problem or need inspiration to strike. It's also great for tasks that might be challenging and require focus, but a different kind of focus. Drawing is a great example there.

Back to the topic, to me there is a difference between what the OP describes and consciously "practicing" one's wording before saying something you want to express in a precise manner, or even between the former and turning an interesting phrase around in your brain via repeating it verbally. When I (apparently) did this as a kid, I had NO IDEA I was doing it. To the point that I didn't even believe people who told me that I did. And, if the people who noticed it are to be believed, it was practically everything I said. On the other hand, sometimes even as an adult I try out different ways of saying something or repeat an interesting turn of phrase to myself. When I do that, I know I'm doing it - I'm doing it on purpose, because I enjoy words or need to be sure I'm choosing exactly the right ones.
posted by Sara C. at 7:41 AM on September 7, 2010


No one can truly focus on two things at once; those who appear to (e.g. listening to music while working) are dividing their attention, and they are unable to ever achieve the one-pointedness you get even at your baseline.

Ummmm....false. I find music shuts off the words in my brain and lets me do things like drawing, building and even writing long bits of not-too-algorithmy code in a LOT more focused and concentrated manner.



That's not listening to music. That's HEARING music. The difference isn't just semantic. If you tried to really LISTEN to the music (in the way a musician or serious aficionado does), you'd be dividing your attention. That's why the person to whom I'm responding finds it distracting; he's paying attention, and attention can't efficiently be paid to two tasks at the same time; it's always divisive, even though one might not recognize the lost efficiency (that's not arguable; it's fully accepted by both psychologists and yogis).
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:23 PM on September 7, 2010


to me there is a difference between what the OP describes and consciously "practicing" one's wording before saying something you want to express in a precise manner, or even between the former and turning an interesting phrase around in your brain via repeating it verbally.

True, they seem/feel like different issues....but I rehearse, too. As do many (perhaps even all) people with this issue (per the thread I linked to near the top). So I bet they're associated. In fact, same's true of you (e.g. as you say "sometimes even as an adult I try out different ways of saying something or repeat an interesting turn of phrase to myself"). Of course it's hard for us to know what's associated, since the behavior's so unconscious to begin with!


When I (apparently) did this as a kid, I had NO IDEA I was doing it. To the point that I didn't even believe people who told me that I did.
Same here. And that seems common, from what I'm reading (including above).
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:28 PM on September 7, 2010


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