Repeating words

Echolalia (repeating the words of others) was brought up in the “should I worry about my coworker going postal” thread. Both of my sons have a similar tic, palilalia, where they will repeat the last word or two of a sentence after speaking. It’s in a whisper. I haven’t noticed it as much with the younger one, with whom we observed it first, in the past few years. He has mild OCD, with exceptionally high verbal skills. With the oldest I never noticed it until he entered high school. He also has high verbal skills, in addition to off the charts mathematical skills. I don’t know if it’s related, but he’s had a tendency the past couple of years to blow off assignments he didn’t like.

I’m not super concerned about either kid, as both are doing well in academic programs that my wife and I would have never attempted (except for the times they don’t do the work, which curiously doesn’t necessarily happen in the most difficult classes). I’m mostly just wondering how widespread this is.

Not that this is any indication of how widespread it is, but it is used on the sitcom “The Middle” as one of the youngest kid’s “eccentricities”. He is portayed as superbookish with tics like palilalia (thanks for the new word) and yelping (which was only for several episodes).

Echophenomena is common in people with Tourette’s Syndrome, ASD, and schizophrenia. I don’t know if it’s that common in the general pop, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some kids just go through a “phase” and out grow it.

I didn’t start exhibiting it until I was an adult. I suppose there’s a chance I had something as a kid, but I have no memory of it and no one ever pointed it out to me. I don’t repeat other people’s words (just their gestures), but I will repeat my words. Usually the last word or two of a sentence. And then I’ve got a couple of stock phrases that loop in my mind constantly, for no reason. They spill out into my speech on a regular basis.

I never know when I’m “doing it” until I’ve already done it, which makes controlling it very hard.

I don’t think I’ve been disabled by it. But then again, I don’t really push myself socially. I am gainfully employed and doing well on the job. If coworkers are bothered by me, they haven’t said anything.

I was taking meds to try to control it better, but I stopped because the side effects were killing me and they weren’t working. At the end of the day, it’s just a cosmetic issue. Everyone’s got their “thing”. This just happens to be mine.

Wow, it’s amazing the things you can forget about yourself! As a kid I would repeat the last few words of whatever I said under my breath. I wasn’t aware of it until other kids made fun of me for it, and it was hard to stop because of that. I’d completely forgotten about it until now.

Apparently it’s somewhat common (though not limited to) children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Despite not being autistic or having Asperger’s, I had several traits that are now seen as “Asperger-y,” such as an awkward gait, social difficulties, etc. I’m fairly sure if I were a kid todayI’d be placed on the spectrum and probably qualify for all kinds of services that weren’t around when I was a kid, even though I don’t think I ever met the diagnostic criteria for any spectrum disorders (which hadn’t been developed then, anyway).

In any event I grew out it somehow. (I think; maybe I still do it, and it was my peers who grew out of mentioning it to me!) I’m sure your kids will be fine. Look at me; I turned out—um, well… I’m sure your kids will be fine!

My oldest son does this (palilalia), and also has other spectrum characteristics…at 15 he’s mostly outgrown it, but still reverts to it under stress. Interestingly, he’s still unaware of it when he’s doing it, but we rarely call it to his attention. In any case he’s a bright, funny, fun kid, so we’ve just gotten used to it and don’t think of it as an issue anymore.

Kurt Vonnegut made use of this in Breakfast of Champions. (What he called echolalia is evidently pilalalia, if the OP is correct.) Initially, he just says his doctor calls it that, and repeats the last words of relatively random sentences. As we get deeper into the book, he uses it to draw extra attention and emphasis to specific words at the ends of sentences, in a way that’s truly brilliant. Truly brilliant.

I see what you did there . . . did there.