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Thread: Repeating words

  1. #1
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    Default Repeating words

    Hi,

    My son sometimes repeats words used in context over and over. It can mask as defiant behavior. For example, last night my husband told our young daughter to be careful as the stove was hot. My boy repeated the word hot in a silly tone at least 10 times. My husband became very frustrated. I mentioned that we need to stay calm as this could be a tic. My husband feels that it is dangerous to assume that so many things are tics.

    My husband is a teacher and had excellent self control when stressed so he got down to my boys level and gently redirected the behavior.

    Just looking for opinions.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    My husband feels that it is dangerous to assume that so many things are tics.
    I would argue the opposite, and until specific behaviours can be ruled out as not being tics, the assumption should be it's a Tourette related symptom. Anything to the contrary, in my view, could be stressing your son, who at age eight is likely too young articulate the basis of his behaviours.

    Considering that maturation of self awareness is said to occur around the age of ten to twelve, your son at eight likely knows that he tics, but is unlikely to know when he tics. Tourette specialists tell us a child who has not reached the age of self awareness is unable to articulate their premonitory urge, which is why at that young age, behavioural interventions are ineffective.

    Knowing when one tics is an important step in managing Tourette tics. Without that awareness, tics are as natural and spontaneous and involuntary as breathing, blinking one's eyes and swallowing.

    Therapists will sometimes ask the parent of a child with TS to stop blinking his/her eyes for two minutes to try to experience what it might be like for a person with TS to try to resist the urge to tic.

    Your son may need a little latitude when he needs to expresses his symptoms, because in your son's mind, being reprimanded or admonished for actions or behaviours that are involuntary and normal to him can only create undue stress thereby exacerbating his tic activity, not to mention deleterious effects on his self esteem.

    Please have a look at the "sticky" posts, those at the head of the Tics Overview section where tics and their genesis is described in a numerous articles.

    A quick reference to the common tics of Tourette Syndrome can be found and downloaded as a PDF one page article HERE

    Repeating one's own words or the words or phrases heard is called echolalia and is a common Tourette phonic tic.

    BTW once self awareness matures, a child (person) with Tourette is quite capable of differentiating between a tic and voluntary behaviour.
    Last edited by Steve; February 24, 2015 at 03:31 PM. Reason: terminology revisions

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    I guess we are having trouble understanding when a tic presents itself. So far we have only had facial tics, throat clearing and snorting, along with nose touching.


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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    We have been used to gently coaching and teaching appropriate behavior. In the case of rudely repeating words, what is the best strategy as parents?


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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    Quote Originally Posted by tlpatzer View Post
    We have been used to gently coaching and teaching appropriate behavior. In the case of rudely repeating words, what is the best strategy as parents?
    I thought this response by Dr. Gina Higgins to a parent in another thread might offer some insight.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    A lot depends on the child, and how much redirection s/he can handle. If I'm in a hurry to get us out of the house, and I need to concentrate so I don't forget any of the things I need to take with me as I'm running out the door, I might tell my 11yo son with TS, "I can't think straight. Can you hold it till you're out of the house?" If I'm hearing the same fragment of a pop song for the umpteenth time, and it's about to make me nuts, I might say, "Could we have a different song now, please?" Today my son was getting on my nerves saying "Honky" and "Nigga" repeatedly. (My son is black and I am white, by the way, so I'm okay with frank discussions about race -- but I do not like those words, just as I'd rather hear the scientific word for a particular personal part of the body than the slang word.) I started to groan, and he reassured me that he doesn't use those words at school, unlike some other people he knows (which I believe is true, unfortunately). Then he was back to yak, yak, yak, Honky, Nigga, on and on. I will tell you that humor is my best weapon. Here's how it worked in this case: when he said, "what do you call someone who's white but grows up in a black culture?" I said, "Hinky?" I don't know if this works for other people with TS, but once my son starts laughing spontaneously, that gets the needle out of the groove it was stuck in.

    A year and a half after getting the diagnosis, I am still discovering new things every week that are related to the TS, that I hadn't realized were connected.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    This response was so helpful. It is a journey of learning. I really like the idea of asking my son to 'hold it' if I'm trying to focus. I will start using that language for sure. Humour is a great strategy in our house too, although I never thought to use it to redirect tics. Thank you!!!


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    Sounds good. If you use an I-message, when you're starting to go nuts, you may be able to appeal to his empathetic connection with you.

    I love the interview Jamie Grace did with her parents when she was 16.



    One of my favorite things about this video is the contrast between how her father deals with her insomnia and how her mother deals with it.

    One tiny warning about the use of humor -- sometimes my husband uses humor in the wrong way. For example -- my husband doesn't have OCD, but a couple of times, he was fooling around, saying "I have to do such-and-so, because of my OCD" -- my son took it quite badly.

    My son loves it when I use expressive facial expressions or body language, or a theatrically interesting way of saying something, when I'm showing him my reaction (positive or negative) to his behavior. He loves to imitate me (repeatedly). And some things become soothing rituals, even when he finds it annoying to be steered away from the computer and towards his homework. I have to take the imitation with a grain of salt. I actually have a fairly slim build, and yet, his imitations and descriptions of me generally include the phrase "wide hips" -- I've learned to just let it wash over me.

    By the way, the repetition you were describing in your first post has a name -- echolalia.

    There's a lot more defiance to come -- try not to react to it as defiance. You could think of it as though he's a playwright, and he's trying out different styles of dialogue, to see how they sound. He may have some curiosity to see what a defiant response sound like. If you take the utterance at face value, you'll be backing him into a corner, where he'll feel pressured to feel defiance. But if you can take the defiant-sounding utterances as experiments, instead of a call to arms, you'll have an easier time keeping your cool. Remember when your children were learning to talk? There was a lot of repetitive babble then that you probably didn't take as meaningful utterances.

    Also, you may hear a lot of things that sound like lies. It's okay. Just listen to it like new combinations of words and ideas. An artist tries laying down the elements of a collage in a variety of ways before starting to glue the pieces in place.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    That video was excellent!


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Repeating words

    Glad you liked it! I find it very inspiring.

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