Something strange is going on in my brain. Aside from the usual strangeness, I mean, which I’m quite used to. Back in March I wrote about my missing word problem. Over the past few months, I’ve developed some funky new issues with writing:
The missing words are no longer just small words like a or the. Now I also skip right over important words, and sometimes pairs of words. A particularly bad sentence might have three words missing.
Sometimes I repeat phrases, typing things like “I was about to about to change directions.” Those are fairly easy to catch when editing.
Verb forms have become interchangeable at times, which results in me sending ridiculous texts like “I’m exciting to see you” and mixing tenses in paragraphs.
Contractions are occasionally problematic, specifically leaving off the apostrophe and what comes after it.
The weird word substitutions continue, perhaps more frequently, definitely in more obvious forms. Also substituting homonyms like to/too and you’re/your, even though I know the correct usage and it drives me bonkers when other people do this.
My spelling has become erratic. In some writing sessions, I backspace over every third word, often more than once until I get it right. The biggest problem seems to be the letters coming out in the wrong order. Yesterday I tried to type Walmart into my GPS and I had “mwla” before I realized that wasn’t going to get me to where I needed to go.
This all adds up to making writing–from a blog posts to one sentence emails–very frustrating. Even a single line reply on Facebook will end up with some glaring–though not to me–error. In spite of multiple proofreadings. In spite of taking my time and being extra careful.
And then there’s the occasional difficulty with comprehension. Sometimes reading is frustratingly hard. I guess the best explanation is that it feels difficult to hold the idea of what I’ve read in my head. For example, I’ve started replying to comments as I read them because by the time I get to the end of a multi-paragraph comment, I’m not clear on what was in the first paragraphs or what I wanted to say. This is in contrast to my usual (past?) strategy of read the comment, digest what was said, write a reply to the overall concept while touching on smaller ideas that also interested me.
In short, reading and writing, two things I have loved all of my life, are becoming frustrating and exhausting. And did I mention frustrating?
Adapting, Or At Least Trying To
When I first started noticing the new strangeness, I thought maybe I was experiencing communication overload. Blogging and keeping up with social media involves a lot of communicating. I told myself that things would be better after my long vacation at the beginning of October. Nearly two weeks of not communicating online seemed like a good way to test that theory out. I didn’t notice a big change when I returned.
The other strategies I’ve been experimenting with don’t seem to be having substantial impact either: commenting less, cutting back on social media, writing shorter replies to comments, posting less frequently, writing only a couple of times a week instead of daily, taking entire days off from text-based communication, reading less, Silent Mondays.
The other strategy–the one I’m having even less success with–is trying to be kinder to myself. So much of my communication with others is in text-based form. When I’m constantly making errors, I worry that people will think I’m being careless or, in the case of work communication, unprofessional. Every time I hit send on something and then catch an error in it later, I cringe and beat myself up a little.
Then I start wondering about all the errors I’m not catching. The other day I wrote an important two sentence email. I proofread it four times, finding a couple of errors. Then I asked The Scientist to proofread it for me and he found a missing verb that I hadn’t caught. Verbs are important. Also important–at least to me–is not having important emails get sent off looking like I couldn’t bother to check for errors.
A big part of my frustration is how self-conscious I’m becoming about writing. The insidious ugly shadow of perfectionism is stalking me every time I put my fingers to the keyboard these days. That makes it hard to want to write, harder still to enjoy it.
But at least I can still write. I should be thankful for that. It’s hard and I’m producing only about a quarter of what I had been, but there are still plenty of writing sessions where I manage to finish a decent draft or revision of something.
The Bigger Question
What’s going on here? Why has my most reliable means of communicating become such a source of angst?
I’ve been considering a few possibilities. This could be a side effect of perimenopause. Cognition disturbances are commonly listed among the symptoms. Maybe my language processing problems are a particularly autistic form of cognitive disturbance. If that’s the case, then like the rest of the perimenopause symptoms, I just need to wait this out.
There is also the possibility of autistic regression–a topic that will be getting its own post. Briefly, autistic regression is a medium to long-term loss of coping skills or abilities in an autistic person. Language and communication aren’t strictly coping skills, so I’m not sure this applies in the way it would if I was losing my ability to, say, deal with sensory overload or perform self-care tasks. But the general concept of “not being able to do something at the level that I previously could” applies.
There are other possibilities too. Some sort of decline in motor function–maybe my hands are refusing to obey my brain and I have more of a typing problem than a language problem. That theory probably wouldn’t account for why my verbal word substitutions and word ordering problems have increased. At least a few of times a day I say the wrong word, have to pause noticeably to find a word mid-sentence or say the right words in the wrong order. Last week it took me four tries to say, “if you write what you think other people want to read” because I couldn’t figure out the proper sequence of verbs and pronouns.
The cause of all of this could be stress or long-term communication burnout, though I can’t say that either my stress levels or the amount that I’m reading and writing are greater than they’ve ever been. I’ve been more stressed. I’ve had more demanding communication loads. I’ve never had this kind of response to either. Of course, age could be a factor–perhaps I’m less resilient to stress or burnout than I was a decade or two ago.
Where I Go From Here
I guess this is a sort of apologia post. If you’ve noticed I haven’t been around much, haven’t commented on something or participated in something, that I’m posting less or making more errors in my writing, that something I wrote is choppy or doesn’t flow well–this is why. I don’t foresee any of this changing in the short-term so I wanted to share what I’ve been experiencing–as an explanation, a request for input, a way of clearing my thoughts–I’m not entirely sure. Probably all three.
Because my love of writing hasn’t diminished. My ideas continue to bubble up excitedly. I have a long list of things I want to write about. I read other people’s blogs daily. I enjoy reading every single comment left by readers here. I miss sitting down to write every morning. I miss feeling exhilarated at knocking out a 1500 word post in one sitting. I miss the absolute joy and the sense of freedom I’ve always felt in writing.
And I’m scared. I want to believe this is temporary or it’s all in my head. Maybe now that I’ve set these thoughts down here, I’ll be able to relax and start to enjoy writing again, glitches and all.
118 thoughts on “Uncooperative Words and Where I Go From Here”
Oh my, that is incredibly frustrating. I hear you.
I have noticed you posting and commenting less, but I interpreted it as something good, like “She’s spending less time trying to respond to EVERYTHING, taking some time for herself, good!”. I’m sorry that it didn’t feel that way for you.
I disagree on language and communication not being coping skills. They’re coping skills in our social environment. If we didn’t want to connect with others, understand others, or make ourselves heard, we wouldn’t need language. We’d be perfectly content. So language to me IS a coping skill that helps me connect with people. And it makes sense that sometimes that skill isn’t very accessible or dependable, same as coping with sensory overload.
I wish I could help you with some insightful comment or some helpful tips. I really feel for you. Cyberhugs from me!
I wish I was around less because of something great but it’s generally because often any large amount of writing frustrates me to the point of a near panic attack lately. I’m hoping that talking about it here will help lessen the emotional issues a little. Also, now that I’ve said this, I’ll feel less like I need to proofread everything five times before I hit the post or reply button. That will make me more like to participate more again I think.
That’s a good point about language being a coping skill. I guess it’s one that I mostly take for granted or see as very utilitarian, but so are things like self-care, so that’s not a good analogy. Thank you for the empathy and the understanding. That helps a lot.
haven’t had time to read everyone’s comments, but if you have any kind of insurance, check with a neurologist. It might not be autism or stress related at all, and the fact that it’s getting worse is worrisome.
If it continues to get worse, I definitely will. The person who diagnosed me last year is a neuropsychologist and I’d probably talk to him first since he has some ‘baseline’ observations and tests from my autism evaluation.
I am glad you are seeking some medical input here because there are physiological symptoms as well as the cognitive ones. I wish you all the best.
Thank you 🙂
I’m really sorry you’re experiencing this and know this doesn’t help, but I have been having some of the same type of issues for the past few weeks, and I am getting increasingly frustrated, too. (I am very impatient and the swear words I have been using at my computer are worse than ever). I try really hard to hit the keys in the right order sometimes and it takes me three or four goes to get it right. And like you, I proof-read it and don’t realise all the silly mistakes I’ve made until after I’ve read someone’s reply. I have become grateful about those wee red lines whereas previously I used to hate them
My spoken language has deteriorated and when I’m speaking sometimes I stop, realising what I’m saying isn’t a proper sentence, and I try another couple of words and sit there for a moment before discarding the whole idea and trying something else.
Not sure what is going on but I have been delaying seeing people, writing emails and generally been feeling a bit useless. I had hoped it was simply to do with being tired at the end of a long year, busy at work and home and the underlying pressure of having applied to do a post graduate research paper at university next year and wondering whether I’ll have a hope of managing it.
I have also been more seriously ill far more often this year.
Maybe it is something to do with our psychological dependency on the written word and especially needing it to be correct? As that is how we represent ourselves? But as you said, why “now”? (especially realising your struggle has been more extended than mine).
I don’t know but if anyone does, I would be very grateful to hear their ideas and your thoughts after hearing back from people.
Thank you for sharing such a difficult and personal struggle..
I’m sorry you’re experiencing similar things. The avoidance I can totally relate to. And it’s hard when you primarily rely on written communication to find yourself not wanting to do that anymore.
I’m curious, if you don’t mind answering, how old you are? I’m leaning toward this either being stress-related compounded by becoming less resilient with age or hormonal/perimenopause related. It’s possible that the way some autistic people experience these age-related stages is different from typical aging. For example, where other people start forgetting where they put their keys, we experience language issues.
The changes for me have been gradual and they also seem to be global across all forms of language processing. The writing problems are especially frustrating because that’s always been an area of strength for me. The speech problems are less disturbing to me because I don’t speak as much as I write and I mostly speak to people who will overlook the errors. I’m very curious to hear other’s experiences too. Maybe we’ll find some sort of pattern or clues.
49 yr old female 🙂 yes indeed. Sorry forgot to mention that…
Okay, thanks, that’s helpful to know. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your struggles with words. I sure hope you keep on going. Your words mean a lot to me.
Thank you. Fingers crossed that it’s a short-term thing, even if short-term turns out to be a few years.
The same thing happened to someone I knew. We buried him last week… Naaaa.. Just kidding 🙂
But seriously, I think it’s just stress. This happens to me in times of stress or if I’m trying to get thoughts on paper so fast that the fingers can’t keep up with the mind or I’m super worried about making mistakes like the perfectionist I am. I can’t even send out a simple email at work without triple checking it for spelling mistakes, typos etc.
Relax, don’t worry and I’m sure it’ll pass… Either that or it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s….Naaaa… I’m only joking again.
Have a good one 🙂
I’ve been working on the relaxing part, in case it’s a self-reinforcing phenomenon. Worry about making errors- make more errors-worry more about making errors and on and on. I can see that being at least part of it.
I think stress can help perpetuate it, but I don’t know if it’d be stress that is the real cause, maybe but just not the stress we generally associate as stress, if you know what I mean. And also it’s EVERY day, EVERY time I sit at the key board, EVERY day whether I spend it alone or at work, tired or not.
Interestingly my partner has been away for 6 weeks, and the first couple of weeks were stressful because we had an old and ill dog that I eventually had to have PTS, so there has been more responsibility, but way less personal stress (no discussion, compromise etc eating an \d doing what I want and SOOOO peaceful!).
I also find the spaces between words a challenge, I hit the spacebar but many words are always run together or the space comes after the first letter of the next word – so often. I don’t touch type, I watch the keys (and there’s nothing wrong with the keyboard).
My only explanation related to stress is that maybe I’m more sensitive/less resilient to it than when I was younger, because I’ve had substantially more stressful periods and have always found writing to be a release during those times and would often write thousands upon thousands of words a day without difficulty. So yes, stress might be a contributing factor, but it’s hard to say it’s the whole thing.
This is happening to me (menopausal). I fumble for spoken words and obsess about written ones. I think part of it is the modern pressure to be succinct in our emails, texts. I am also more and more irritated by noise, smells etc (I am supposed to be NT). I have a feeling that Aspheimer’s is a part of aging. Alzberger’s? I didn’t know it started this early, but every doctor I’ve talked to says it is normal for my age. My kids are treating me like I’m senile, however.
Because I have LD and SPD in addition to the ASD, I have always had difficulty with oral and written communication. However, I have noticed that as I get older (and I am barely into my 40s) the problems get worse. All my life people have told me to “read it aloud” and I have tried that. without success. I skip right over errors because my brain seems to know what I am trying to say. This was also a trend with the LD students I interviewed when I was doing my doctoral study. I was unable to ask the nature of anyone’s disability, but part of the discussion among the over 35 crowd was an increase in symptoms or a change in symptoms with age (those over 40 were especially more effected then those over 35). I am also in a private SPD group online and the increase or change in symptoms is also something that has been discussed. Your post makes me wonder if this is the nature of most cognitive and learning disabilities?
I’ve been reading important emails out loud recently and it seems to help with finding some of the errors but my brain will fill in the missing words at times too. Less so when reading out loud but it’s far from a flawless solution.
Aging has to have an impact on cognitive and learning disabilities. As we age, our brains adapt by reallocating processing resources and those of us with divergent neurologies have already reallocated quite a bit of our brain function before we hit that aging process. And I think women face some special challenges with the hormonal changes that we go through. It’s good to be hearing from others with similar experiences, both as a personal reassurance and as a way of creating a pool of information for others who might be facing the same thing and find this post later in a search.
Would it help to have the computer read the text out loud? I imagine it’s probably harder for your brain to fill in the missing words that way.
Yes, someone suggested software for that and I’m going to give it a try. 🙂
Hello, I read your piece with interest recently and I have say it resonated for me deeply. I’m diagnosed as severely dyslexic, but have always worked hard to disguise it. (The Perfectionist in me) Yet now every effort to write is painfully slow and more mentally demanding than its ever been. First I thought it was Aspie burnout, but now an array of other symptoms have reared their ugly head. I have difficulty swallowing, my own sense of smell is greatly diminished (Horrible for a super taster whose special interest was cooking) my balance and co-ordination are dreadful, with a host of falls (Mainly backwards for some reason) along with global weakness and constantly dropping things, the list goes on….. If your difficulties persist I suggest a check up with a neurologist might be helpful. Your experience may be different to mine, but I have a history of Parkinsons in my immediate family. Long before the link was discussed by Tony Attwood I’d already decided their may be a link given the strong prevalence of both Autism and Parkinson in my kin, but looking at the low dopamine levels that go hand in hand with those on the spectrum and those with Parkinsons, I believe their is a powerful link. Another issue is the change of smell of the individual sufferer. I was aware of it on my Dad, long before his diagnosis, but have now become aware of my own scent change which does not change, despite bathing. Recent research in GB is looking at this phenomenon more closely. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-scotland-42366104/the-woman-who-can-smell-parkinson-s-disease As for me two years later with growing difficulties I’m being re-referred to the consultant. I hope your symptoms have improved and would love to hear an update, but given your extensive knowledge on the subject I’d also like to hear your views on it. Take Care and all the best! Mxx
((((musings)))) It sounds really, really scary. I have nothing helpful to add to this thread, but wanted you to know, I’m thinking of you, am sending virtual hugs and support.
Thank you, Ariane. ❤
I so feel for you. I am only starting out on this journey, so what do I know… I know that things fluctuate a lot, that is something I am beginning to recognise in myself and has made me very confused throughout my life. May be it’s mind games or self talk that we are hardly aware of to do with perfectionism… a sudden self consciousness about writing, about something you do really well. I know sometimes if someone has said something good about what I’ve done, there’s a niggling feeling right in the depths of me that wants to destroy it, like a ‘catch 22’ situation or a ‘double bind’, it’s such an elusive thing to try and put into words… but may be it’s none of this.
I do feel that as I’ve got older things have become more difficult to cope with, especially expressing myself, but this may be to do with me finding out that I have this and being more aware of my difficulties. Or external influences outside ourselves that have changed in some way – could be minute, but from what I’ve read here, elsewhere, and my from my own experience, we tend to be hyper aware of other people’s emotions (sometimes)/affected by other people’s angst/a change in a room setting or other environment… different people around us… but I’m sure that you’ve already thought about all of this!
I know if I send this comment, I will like you mentioned above, cringe with embarrassment, wish I hadn’t sent it and that I could retrieve it. I feel this way about everything I write.
Autistic regression is interesting and I’d love to read more about it. The only place I’ve seen it mentioned is in relation to anaesthesia. I had a number of ops recently for a broken bone, when I came to after the third one, I looked at the clock (a conventional round clock) and couldn’t decipher what the time was, I had to ask, it was fairly frightening. I had a vague memory then of having the same problem in school as a young child. I am fine again now, but I have always needed to really look for a while to figure out what the time is on a conventional clock… may be it’s about trying to get the numbers into words, but I don’t have this problem with digital clocks… I’ve always been hopeless at maths.
Thanks for sharing and writing.
I’ve thought a lot about whether it might be in my head or compounded by being overly conscious of it. And it does come and go – sometimes better, sometimes worse/more noticeable. But overall it’s becoming more constant and pervasive and, much as I’m refusing to admit it to myself, debilitating. I guess only time will really show me what’s going on. Until then, the best we can all do is keep adapting right?
I’m working on a post about regression. It’s nearly done – just needs an ending and some edits. I thought I might post it this week but I’ve had 3 days of jury duty (about to leave for that in a moment) so I’m way behind on what I’d hoped to do this week. Th’at’s really interesting about your reaction to anesthesia, I know that people can have really unusual and often frightening reactions to waking up from it. I hope it was just a blip on the radar for you. 🙂
Sorry to hear this; it sounds massively frustrating and scary. Hope things get better for you soon. I wish I could just wave a magic wand or something!!
Thank you. 🙂 Fingers crossed that things will improve. Or at least stop getting worse, dammit.
I have been experiencing an almost identical set of issues with increasing severity for the last 12 months. I’m 45, and have put it down to peri-menopause. I may seem young for this, but my Mom’s menopause ended at 48, and apparently this is a good gauge of ones own timeline.
This isn’t a Doctor’s opinion, it’s my own. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I have many years experience of being right about my own health 90% more often than Doctors in the long run, who have devastated my life for years at a time with their misdiagnosis. So these days I listen to what I have to say, and take it into account.
The reason I think it’s hormones, is I keep a very simple daily record tracking food, sleep, mood, cycle, life. I created my own straightforward chart around 5 years ago, with the original intent to figure out what foods I’m intolerant to. But it’s been enlightening in so many other ways as regards identifying triggers, noting changing hormones, etc.
In the last year, I have noticed all the symptoms get much worse at specific times of the month when a hormonal shift is probably occurring. Sorry if TMI, but for me in particular days 20 and 24 I’m much more easily overstimlulated, and have even programmed a monthly calendar note reminding me not to do anything hasty on these days. (Meaning I pretty much keep to myself, no social media, no email responses, even no phone calls).
Then from around day 25 to when I get my period, my collective cognitive skills go steadily downhill. I miss words out of sentences, and jumble things up in the same ways you describe above. I am less able to decipher what people are trying to communicate to me, in writing or verbally, to the extent my sense of humor actually changes (and I refer jokes I’d normally find funny to my husband for interpretation). I get left and right mixed up, and even get in the wrong side of the car (I’m a Brit living in USA).
This is already too long, so I’ll stop and see if it’s helpful first. I have some tips for things that help me. It doesn’t make the problem go away, but for myself does help dealing with it somehow.
This is tremendously helpful because I’ve seen a lot of the same trends with my cycle, although it’s a joke to even call it a cycle at this point because it could last anywhere from 14 to 40 days. I know for sure that I’m well into perimenopuase at 44 and probably have been for 2-3 years. It does seem young, but obviously it happens since we’re both experiencing it.
The symptoms overall seem to be “peaking” and so maybe the increasing cognitive difficulties are part of that peak. I’ve also noticed more issues with left and right, as well as some increasing motor coordination problems. I’ve tripped and fallen 4 times while running in the past three months, which is a lot even for me.
i appreciate you sharing the specifics of your experience. I may start keeping a journal too. That’s a great idea and would give me something more concrete to refer to over time.
Yes! to the coordination getting worse, and it could be hormonal – it would make sense. My cycles are erratic and I don’t pay much attention to them. I guess it means my symptoms are minor at this point, and also I have enough health/body struggles that I just put my head down and try to blunder on in ignorance. It sounds like a good research/survey topic if we could get enough respondents
And I’d love any tips that people find helpful. Thinking that this could be long/er term _IS_ quite frightening. I don’t think about much more than today a few days ahead with most stuff.
Thanks for bringing all this up, it’s really important for all of us – whether we have always struggled or if we are more recently challenged with losing our useful skills.
That is really frustrating for you, I’m sorry to hear that. Coincidentally, I have noticed that since a few months I am making more and more typos, as well. I don’t know why, either. Sometimes they are grammatical/spelling, sometimes they are finger movement things, like “liek” (I just typed “liek”, then “lile” and then “like” -> interesting, maybe I made that error because while I was typing the word “like” I was thinking of what example to type?)
It’s annoying, because it means I am getting worse at something I was proud of being good at, which is what you’re dealing with as well.
The link with menstruation cycle (mentioned above) is interesting, I’ll keep an eye on that too.
I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with language issues too. Absolutely the most frustrating and scary part is watching something that has always been a strength turn into a weakness. If writing was something that I did but didn’t consider a strength or something I always struggled with that I noticed worsening (like my issues with speech lately) it would be less of a concern. Or maybe just less of a focal point.
Oh dear! How awful for you. I have had the same problem now getting increasingly worse for a few years. I didn’t notice it at first. I was getting it first with reading out loud. My husband was following along on our daily bible readings and he would stop me because I was picking up words from the sentence below and inserting them into what I was currently reading. It sounded fine to me but what I was saying made no sense. I thought it was a form of dyslexia.
I too am mixing up there, their, they’re and I know how to use them correctly. I was blaming autocorrect for changing what I wrote. The same goes for to and too. Rules with spelling and grammar are not my strong suit but I cling to what I can remember so I don’t look stupid. That is now failing me too.
Spelling. What a nightmare. I can’t stand it anymore. Or leaving out the subject of the sentence. Yuck.
What I think may be the real culprit is the computer. As a society, we are depending on it to correct our spelling and help us quickly get our thoughts out. Maybe we don’t need this. Slowing down might be the solution by hand writing everything out. Handwriting is getting dropped in many schools as unnecessary, but it has a unique effect on the brain. It’s like music, activating parts of the mind that don’t commonly intersect. Handwriting is slow, giving you time to choose words. It helps with your spelling and grammar. Handwriting is something we have done for thousands of years, whereas typing is common only in the past 100.
Maybe this will give you a semblance of balance again. Don’t write less, write more, but in a different way.
I have to confess, I share these problems, and I find handwriting even more scary now. I am so used to the computer my brain often seems to stop when I pick up a pen to write a card to a friend or a note to someone at work. I don’t use auto-correct, but I find I have adapted to the computer and prefer it, apart from my lists… my endless lists are all hand written though I seem to be duplicating those for some reason. Real cognitive struggling going on in there.
I’m sorry you’re experiencing this too. It’s so frustrating and hard to understand.
I’ve been very comfortable with the computer since I got my first one as a kid back in the days of Radio Shack’s TRS behemoths and before that with a typewriter. Typing of some form has always been the most comfortable and reliable form of getting my words down. When I used to bring my laptop to university classes to take notes, people would often tell me that they were impressed by how fast/accurately I could type and sometimes would say they needed to move away because the speed of my typing made them nervous! My handwriting is poor (like, often I can’t even read it later) and I have a lot of problems getting the letters in the right order when I print. I’ll often skip over a letter while writing and then go back and squeeze it in, only realizing it as I finish the word or start the next. I also end up with huge amounts of crossing out because my thought process when writing isn’t linear and I may need to rewrite a sentence a dozen times to get what I want.
I can see why paper and pen would be helpful for some people and I occasionally write notes on paper before I sit down to type but having to write a blog post on paper just isn’t feasible for me.
I am experiencing something very similar. It seems to be getting worse these last few years. I put it down to stress and depression though. (37yo self diagnosed AS male)
I just read this morning that depression can negatively impact language problems so that’s a very real possibility. I hope things improve for you.
I feel for you, it’s really annoying to struggle with something one loves! Well, I’m in my mid-twenties and somehow my speech and writing is less fluent and correct then it used to be, despite still being in education (postgraduate). It’s been quite some time since poems and stories just flowed from my brain to the paper without struggling a lot. But I think it’s partially because I learned a lot of coping mechanisms (I still have no clue whether I’m an Aspie or just owner of a generally crazy brand of brain, whatever, but I need coping mechanisms) over the years and because I am much more open to certain stimuli from my environment now, especially social cues – as a teen I used to live in my own world a lot. In addition I’m much more aware of my own thoughts and reactions than in former times, which on the one hand is great for self-discovery and understanding my personal quirks (like strange emotional reactions to random articles of clothing), but on the other hand it takes up capacities I could use for other things, tiring me, being tired often leading to real problems with speech and understanding. So all in all I’m taking note of more things (and more in depth) at the same time than I used to, which leads to evening out the formerly very different levels of abilities and a broader distribution of cognitive resources. Does that make sense? Now that was hard to write in some parts, as English isn’t even my native language.
Yes, it definitely makes sense that if you’re using resources for coping strategies you’ll have less available for creativity. Also, sensory overload or just increased sensory processing demands can definitely lead to reduced language abilities. That’s something I think of as attributable to autism because it’s been a constant in my life. I think you might like the post I’m writing on “regression” because early twenties is often a time when autistic people notice a big change in coping abilities or other abilities in general. It’s so hard to feel like you’re losing skills that you had previously “mastered.”
And I wouldn’t have guessed that English isn’t your native language. 🙂
Thanks 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this post! By the way, your blog saved my night – after a lot of tossing and turning I noticed that I continued to stuff my arm and my leg between the two matresses, and after some thinking I found my very loose pyjama to be the source of discomfort. Normally it’s fine, but at the moment I’m stressed due to a big English exam tomorrow, so I really had to capacities to deal with this stupid piece of clothing 😀 I found myself some tights and a t-shirt, and finally got some hours of sleep. So thanks again for keeping the good work up, your posts are a great help.
That’s great to hear. Just understanding why some things are difficult and making small changes has had such a big impact on my daily life. I’m glad you figured out what was bugging you and were able to fix it! 🙂
The one that I constantly do is, “you” when I meant “your.”
I’ll reread a sentence that says, “I agree with you [sic] opinion, but…”
Here’s how I view the kinds of written errors that you’ve mentioned, especially when they get missed in proof reading.
I liken it to picking weeds. I’ll do a first pass, and think I got them all, then I take another look and I see more —how could I have not seen them the first time? For me, it’s a trick of the eye. It’s fairly easy to see one thing that really stands out, but when it’s hidden (seeds among grass or words in a paragraph) it really becomes a chore at times. I find it’s easier to proofread other people’s writing than my own. When it’s my own work, it can happen that just as I omitted a word as I was typing, my mind will fill it in as I’m reading.
As to the “why” the errors happen, for me, I claim it’s because I’m thinking far faster than I’m typing. The same errors don’t happen to me in verbal communication… and I can speak pretty fast. 🙂
Yes, editing is very much like weeding and it’s definitely easier to pull other people’s weeds. 🙂 I always give my drafts to my husband to look over, because he’ll catch most of what I miss. My concern isn’t so much with not seeing the errors (though that’s annoying) but with the evolution of the kinds of errors I’m making. Recently a whole new and very specific set have appeared and they’re global (typing, handwriting, speaking).
The “global” errors you mention can be alarming. I know that it must be trying for my wife when I hang, like a computer program deciding to go full blue screen or come back to life, while discussing things. I have to appreciate her willingness to wait for me when the words get bottlenecked. 🙂
My husband is really patient too. He finds a nice balance between being helpful and letting me wait for my brain to catch up.
I do everything you described all the time. I’ve had those magical 1500 word moments but usually anything I write is a read, and re-read and re-read again and re-write and re-read what I just re-wrote process. I’m notoriously slow in online chat conversations because of this.
I would say that the two biggest contributors in this problem for me is sleep quality and self consciousness, and those 2 can be tied together as well. There are days that I just notice and feel anything and everything, and there are days where I’m in a zone and everything seems to come to me. Sometimes I feel so self conscious that I have to concentrate on each step, sometimes I skip and jump down steps without noticing.
A stim usually helps keep me in the zone. Have you tried listening to music or any other of your favorite stims while you write?
I stim on the keyboard when I’m thinking, but I think for me typing is actually a stim. Music sometimes helps but other times it’s distracting. I’m not sure what differentiates the two mindsets. Thank you for suggesting that – I’ll give some though to which kinds of music seem to help.
For me, 1500 words in a sitting is a solid session. A really good writing session is 3000+ words and last year at this time, I could do that a few times a week in a good week. In the past 2.5 months I’ve written 3000 words in a writing session exactly once. In fact, I’m not even managing 3000 words a week at this point. Ugh, just writing about this is depressing.
Sleep quality is a good point – not sleeping enough can definitely impact cognitive function.
I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I can imagine it would be incredibly frustrating on a daily basis, and I really hope you can find a good way to work through it or find other ways to get back to what you love.
I hope you don’t find this inappropriate, and please delete this comment if you do, but there is a type of acquired language disorder that fits what you are describing. I definitely don’t want this to sound like I’m saying it’s what you’re dealing with, but it might be worth looking into to see if it fits or if you want to talk to a doctor (because I am NOT a doctor and don’t claim to be!). It is called Broca’s aphasia (aka expressive aphasia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expressive_aphasia) and almost always affects both oral and written communication. I know you are only discussing your difficulties in writing, but it is possible that it can manifest that way. It may also be that your oral expressiveness is slightly impaired, but you are better at compensating for it or it isn’t significant enough to bother you. I could be 100% incorrect with my suggestion of course. I just wanted to offer it because it does seem to fit, and because there are sooooo many options to deal with it if that’s what it is.
In any case, the very best of luck to you. I’m thinking of you and wishing you well.
This extremely unlikely so please don’t worry about it. Your difficulties do not fit the symptoms or aetiology Broca’s Aphasia.
notesoncrazy – I’m not criticising you, and please forgive me for writing this. I’d just hate for anyone to start panicking unnecessarily.
No I appreciate it! I know a bit about it but that is not my area of expertise in language disorders. I’m going to go ahead and delete my above comment. Thanks for chiming in. 🙂
Musings, I’m still thinking of you and wishing for the best!
Nattily, please don’t ever feel bad about any comment you make here. I know you have the best of intentions and also have some knowledge in this area so I appreciate you throwing out this possibility. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about how language works and also to start thinking about some additional ways of maybe mitigating what I’m experiencing. And thank you for your concern. 🙂
Interestingly, one of the compensation techniques I saw mentioned this morning was using other forms of communication and over the past 3 days of jury duty I found myself sketching some of what the witnesses were describing rather than taking written notes. I’m a terrible artist and it wasn’t something I did consciously at first but then I realized how much easier it was to sketch out big ideas and make short notes around them and how easy I found it to recall entire chunks of testimony the next day, simply by looking over the crude sketches.
Musings, I think it was a mistake on my part to suggest this, and I hope I didn’t do any damage. I forgot that I can’t delete my comments on other wordpress blogs, but I would really appreciate it if you could delete the above for me. I do think it was inappropriate and I’m more than a little embarrassed.
I’d actually rather not delete it and didn’t find it inappropriate in any way. I read a little about aphasia back in March but stopped because there the descriptions were too vague and broad. So if it’s okay I’d like to leave it and respond once I’m sprung from jury duty.
I’m so sorry – I didn’t mean to embarras you. Now I’m embarrassed [and I can’t even spell embarras 🙂 ] I have studied aphasias from a neuroscience perspective, rather than clinical.
Lets both not be embarrassed. Ideas are good things.
Please feel free to delete my posts.
Haha, we’ll think of it as a collaboration of shared knowledge. I throw in a suggestion based on my knowledge and experience. You throw in a counter based on your knowledge and experience. Our powers combined have considered and option and made an educated decision that it isn’t the best one. Sounds good to me.
No deleting! 🙂 I like hearing all sides of a topic so this thread is actually great input for me. Thank you both for putting in your two cents.
I read some more about broca’s aphasia this morning, at the link you shared and a couple of other places. There are a few elements of it that are really dead on (the description of the types of words that are problematic is eerily familiar).
Though I didn’t write much about it here, I am having increasing verbal difficulties, especially with word finding and occasionally with substitutions (the word I’m thinking and the word that comes out are different). I’m also having more halting speech, more pauses in the middle of sentences, and sometimes just give up on trying to find the right word and describe what the word means instead because it’s faster. And also sometimes problems with understanding speech when it lacks context. The thing about the verbal stuff is, I’m more used to having verbal speech problems because that’s something I’ve had in various forms all my life so it doesn’t frustrate me like the writing problems do.
Regardless of what the cause is, it was helpful for me to read some more about this because it helps me to understand the broader types of language that I’m struggling with (makes it seem less random, if that makes sense). It also showed me how relatively mild the things I’m experiencing are.
The big question mark for me is that most types of aphasia seem to be linked to a stroke or brain injury, neither of which I’ve experienced. However, I’m wondering if some intersection of autism, age, hormones, whatever could mimic a cluster of symptoms like aphasia, perhaps because autism already impacts some of the same areas in the brain that are involved in aphasia. I want to look some more into the types of exercises, etc. recommended for strengthening the types of language problems I’m having. Do you have any resources you can suggest?
The neurological trauma piece is why I was so hesitant about it. I’ve never heard of aphasia in adults without stroke or TBI, but I have heard of adults who are acquire language disorders after very slight brain damage or imperceptible stroke. I really don’t want to scare you into thinking you’ve had a stroke without realizing it! That’s not at all my point! More like it’s just possible that there’s something very minor going on that could cause language struggles, or maybe even a combination of factors like you suggest, that might otherwise go unnoticed.
The work I am familiar with to regain skills lost with aphasia usually involves direct planning and “practice runs” with a speech pathologist. ASHA has a blurb about what that might look like here: (http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Aphasia/#what_do)
I will look for some links that might be helpful if you didn’t want to talk to an SLP. It might not be a bad idea to talk to one though. Whether it is aphasia or nothing at all or something completely different, an evaluation from a speech pathologist might be comforting just to have a better idea of what to expect in terms of things getting easier with time. It’s also often much more affordable than pursuing a medical or neurological evaluation, though an SLP might encourage that if she is uncertain of an etiology.
As far as things that might help that you could do on your own, drawing pictures like you mention in your other comment is a great help to pretty much anyone dealing with language difficulties. Finding effective visual aids, or otherwise supplementing spoken and written language with other sensory “back-ups,” is usually a big help. You could try using your own personal signs or gestures for words that you use a lot, or words you notice being tricky. You can decide whether you prefer to just replace the word with the sign/gesture in conversation (though that’s not really an option for writing), but often it helps quite a bit to just consistently make the sign or handshape while they say or write the word. These are useful for a lot of expressive language problems, not just aphasia, so even if I was way off base with that, you might still give it a try!
I haven’t had any serious head injuries recently (which isn’t to say I never had any because I’ve had a few that resulted in loss of consciousness) so the trauma part doesn’t fit. But whatever the cause, I am curious about strategies that might be helpful. Thank you for suggesting an SLP as an option. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s so hard to sort out what may be just a worsening of autistic traits versus something else entirely so I’m still on the fence about getting evaluated at all. That’s probably silly but that’s me.
My husband recently asked me if I thought we should learn ASL. He said that if verbal language difficulties get worse with age, that might give us a good secondary communication option. So that’s something else I’m also thinking about. If nothing else, it would give me another way to think about language and a method of communicating other than using spoken or written words. I appreciate you brainstorming with me. 🙂
For what it’s worth, I adore ASL. Just from the perspective of a linguist and an SLP it’s fascinating, sure. But really it’s been a huge help for me personally. As my own spoken language and even written skills are sometimes less than reliable, sign language is another modality that lets me have another option at times when I feel trapped. It’s been a HUGE help to have Patrick learn it too, at least the basics, so I can have support and get needs met and not have to feel so scared and alone.
Okay, I’m going to look for something in this area that we can take. There should be new classes starting up after the beginning of the year so that might work out perfectly.
That would be awesome! I’d love to hear how it works out for you! There are also a lot of great free resources online if nothing fits your schedule for classes. Or you can use them to find signs that are useful and relevant to your lives that aren’t super common in intro classes. You can try aslpro.com and signingsavvy.com, those are both reliably awesome, though a little tricky to navigate sometimes. If I think of anything else I’ll let you know.
Oh and one other thing, you asked on my APD post whether APD could get worse with age and I said I would look into it. I haven’t forgotten! I have emailed a couple professors and nobody is quite sure. I’m still looking though, and I’ll get back to you if I find out!
I found a 12-week adult education class that starts in late January so that’s a good possibility. Until then, I think we’ll start looking at the online resources together and familiarize ourselves with the basics. Definitely can’t hurt.
Thank you for looking into the APD thing. My experience with that is probably tied in to the rest of the language issues. If you find anything about a link with aging, I would love to know.
What my boyfriend and I (both somewhere on the spectrum) are considering is partly building “our own” sign language for bad moments, if verbal skills are failing us, and combining talking, the dominant sign language here (or maybe even ASL, who knows?), and our own gestures.
If you’ve ever seen Pitch Perfect – in the riff-off-scene, before “Like a Virgin” starts, the girl who takes over singing makes a gesture, pulling her hands apart, and this has been our sign for “Stop, I’ll take over where you left off.” It’s shorter and nobody else gets it.
I’ve heard of many people using sign language (not referring to ASL, though) that they have some private signs with friends and family to shorten things and keep it more private on occasion, so maybe a combination of that might be something for you as well?
That’s a great idea. We already have some basic gestures that we use regularly as well as some symbolic words that would be meaningless to others in the context we tend to use them in. I’d like to learn a standard sign language as a base though, because it feels like it would be more universally useful if the need ever arises.
I’m sorry you are experiencing this and I understand it must be horribly frustrating and scary.
I have always had those difficulties with reading and writing, was told I was dyslexic at one point because of it. I’m not really but have tiny working memory capacity, and central executive deficits that add up to something similar. The only time it was a bit easier was when I was taking Concerta. I’n not advocating medication, or being anti it either. I choose not to take it because it had more negatives than positives for me, but it does help some people by making somethings a bit easier. There is computer software called “read and write” which reads your work back to you. It can be helpful for catching errors. I find it more effective than reading it loud out myself.
Do you have samples of past writing to compare with? Is it possible the difference is in how much it bothers you? I don’t mean to disregard what you say at all, and only suggest that because I am currently bothered by my inability to speak properly, say what I want in a way that is understood. I however don’t think its a new problem, rather that I am newly aware of it after monkeying around with medication and learning more about myself. It was always a problem but I couldn’t pinpoint or articulate it before.
This is a clumsy post but I’ve re-written it a couple of times already so will put it up now. I really hope what I said isn’t unkind because I absolutely don’t intend it to be. I want to express empathy and understanding, and offer my limited experiences incase its useful.
I’m going to look for the software you mentioned! Last week I poked around in windows to see if I could get the accessibility feature to read me back my comment replies to check for errors, but the directions were too complicated. I do think that hearing my writing read out loud would make it easier to find the errors, in the same way that the little red line points out my spelling errors instantly (of which it just showed me 6 in that sentence, including a mash-up of “way that” into “watyh”).
I have gone back and looked at past unpublished samples (so not professionally edited-vary forms of draft status) and I find an occasional missing word or typo but nothing like what I find now. The problems I’m having are definitely new (within the past 12-18 months and considerably worse in the past 3 months).
Your reply is definitely not unkind and it reflects the questions I’ve been asking myself for the months. I would love to be imagining this. Nothing would make me happier to realize that it’s all been some sort of mental block and to find my skills becoming more fluent again. So yes, playing devil’s advocate feels important and I try balance out the emotional frustration with continuing to objectively document what I’m experiencing.
First of all, (as I have said before) I’m so glad you wrote about this. Maybe it’s a combination of perimenopause and ‘something else’, is how I look at this issue. Because I noticed the same problems starting at perimenopause – with myself. Change is frightening to me. It is the process of how I think about speaking, writing and communicating that has changed and is changing still. I am an artist and the painting and drawing is less affected by it and in fact seems to have flourished. But it too is different now, although that’s a separate subject. It is for me, as though there has been regression in the verbal communication but a progression in the importance and focus on non-verbal communication. Like I am walled off from the world in one way, but another ‘window’ has enlarged – except it’s harder now to exert Willpower to keep it happening, to keep expressing. When I make errors in spelling or have misunderstandings I’m learning to accept and work around these new facts of life. I’ve caught how it spins and turns in my mind into depression, so started taking B vitamins, and fish oil, which usually (used to) make me feel weird: now they help. Exercise, especially when I just do not feel like doing it, is especially important now. This is a hodge-podge and an attenuated version of my thoughts on this. Hope it all still makes some sense.
It does help a lot, thank you for sharing what you’ve been experiencing. It sounds difficult and scary. I now what you mean about willpower. Exhaustion seems to come on much more quickly and it does take a lot more push to get going on something these days. I’ve been attributing that to menopause, because I’ve read how other women experience crushing fatigue. It’s interesting that you’re find your nonverbal communication enhanced. I don’t really have any nonverbal outlets for communication.
I’d love to hear about how your art has changed if you’d like to share. 🙂
I have noticed that my grammar and reading comprehension suffers when I sleep less than 7 hours. I start having doubts about grammar for the most simple words. Writing becomes more challenging. And sometimes I even have trouble understanding what I’m reading. Fortunately with a good night of sleep my abilities come back to normal. Really frustrating.
Sleep can definitely be a factor in language processing. I’ve experienced that at times. I don’t really have any doubts about grammar – instead somewhere between my brain and my mouth or my fingers, something goes wrong and the wrong word form or word comes out. I know what it should say and I was thinking it correctly, but the result is all wrong anyhow. Frustrating indeed.
I, too, have been experiencing similar problems. However, I look at it a bit differently.
First of all consider the phrase, “I’m exciting to see you!” is funny. Think of all the different things that sentence could mean. Things like that make me laugh out loud and laughing is generally good for your health. Sometimes the only things that I laugh at are my typos.
Now consider, “if you write what you think other people want to read”. Is that an opinion that you would have, or could have, had a decade ago. New ideas are difficult to express at what ever your age. Think of all the funny things 3 year olds say. We are just like that except WE expect ourselves to know it all already.
Finally, high schoolers make excellent proofreader if you can handle the criticisms.
(Please pardon any mistakes I may have made. My lunch break is over.)
Well, it is funny when it’s a text to my daughter. It’s less funny when it’s an important work email. But it’s good if you can keep a sense of humor around it,yes. And you’re right about being hard on ourselves. That’s a huge part of what I’m struggling with and what I was hoping to relieve somewhat in posting this.
I love that you apologized for any errors at the end. 🙂
Wait. Typos in important work emails are bad even if they are funny? That never occurred to me although it seems perfectly obvious now.
I wish I could help in some way- at least I suppose from a confidence perspective, I don’t mind when I see the odd error ins someones writing (I havent ever noticed in errors in yours). Sometimes I spot in published books and am happy to think that people paid to write and edit still make the odd mistake now and then! But I’m sorry that you’re having a very tough time of it, you’re obviously a passionate and dedicated writer and blogger, I hope you manage to figure out whats going on or find a way to feel less stressed about it.
Thank you for the support. 🙂 Before something gets posted here, I’ve proofread it a few times (at least) in different formats and at least one other person has proofed it for me, so hopefully the posts are relatively clean. The comment replies are probably less so because I don’t read them over more than once or twice.
And I constantly find typos in books! I have been known to write corrections in library books. 😉
I love your blog, it is my most useful adjusting to diagnosis resource – its the content that counts not the minor mistakes so please be easy on yourself.
Thank you for the reassurance. 🙂
I completely agree with Ian.
Thank you 🙂
I have this! Seriously, my husband and others are continually laughing at the words that come out of my mouth that I thought I was saying write…and in writing too. I talked to my therapist and doctor because I thought I had a brain tumour…even had an MRI…but everything is fine and they say it is because my brain is so fast at processing that my words do not keep up…and the words following get mixed up with the words coming out. He said I am a fast talker anyway and people always tell me to slow down…he asked if it is even faster in my head and if I feel like I am not talking fast…and I said that is exactly it…and he announced that as my issue. It sucks though because it has been more prominent lately. Now we just try to laugh and move on:) Apparently this gets more prominent with age…I dunno if that is what you are experiencing too? I am in my 30s.
As you can see from above I also think I’m writing things ” right” and I’m not. It also is a different form of autistic dyslexia.
The write/right typo totally confused me for a minute there. 🙂 I’m not sure if it’s a speed issue for me. It certainly could be at times, but it also happens with just one sentence. Like yesterday I said to my husband “I need to leave by three-fifty” when in my head I was thinking “nine-fifty” which was correct. And clearly 3:50 made no logical sense since jury duty started at 10:15. The three just popped out instead of nine. A lot of times the substitutions are of a similar word, like a room but the wrong room or a piece of clothing but not the one I’m thinking. Is that what you experience when you’re thinking/talking too fast?
Yes! I have had exact experiences like that plus the dyslexia writing plus mixing words.
Ah, okay, that’s a good clue for me. 🙂 I feel like a detective.
I proof-read your post and didn’t find any errors:-) Just kidding. Well, I did actually look for any mistakes of the type you listed after I read the list, and did not find any. I think you write very perfect in general… That said, I fully understand your worry and won’t start coming with useless advice, but say that here on the blog perhaps you should not worry too much about making mistakes, because 1) Your readers love you and you have plenty of them, so should there be a few with obsessive-compulsive grammar fixation, then you can afford to loose them, 2) You can always edit your posts after publishing them… That is one of the good sides of a non-printed media, 3) You probably have at least 100s of editors… If you ask for it, then I’m sure people will let you know if they spot a mistake. You could even make a specific feedback form for that if you wanted. Advantage: just so you don’t need to fret so much about the risk of making mistakes that it hinders your great idea from flowing out where all we readers can benefit from them! After all it is the ideas/expressions that create value for people and not perfect spelling and grammar!
Ha! Thank you. I proofread extensively and always give my final draft to someone else to check as well so the posts should be relatively error-free. The comment replies are a crapshoot. 🙂
Thank you for the reassurances. I don’t want readers to feel burdened by letting me know about errors and most of the errors are in the writing process, rather than after posting. The red squiggly underline helps me find quite a few of them. Then proofreading helps me find most of the rest. It just slows me down considerably–all of the correcting and proofreading, etc. My backspace key is going to wear out!
I’m going to try the read aloud software because I think hearing the errors would make them more obvious and it will further reduce my reading volume, which might help. In some way, I just need to accept that a few errors getting through will be inevitable and now I’ve put the difficulties I’m having out there so I feel less self-conscious already about people thinking I’m being careless, etc.
I’ve had several episodes of skipping words, using the wrong word (both speaking and writing), etc. It has faded the last few months, but did show up clearly on a neurocognitive test I had several months ago. The tester had no explanation for it, only that it was there. He called it “semantic paraphasia”.
I have also noticed that even though I talk a LOT, i’m saying less and less that actually means anything…ie too much talking for noise’s sake. All I can chalk it up to is either the unique quirks of being Autistic, or a neuropathy I also have that my docs can’t pinpoint.
Oh my gosh, googling semantic paraphasia was entertaining. I can’t believe people have so many categories of things! Our brains are mysterious things.
It’s good to hear that your word problems have improved. I think the talking too much is an autistic trait. I do this at times, like somehow I get going and just can’t stop myself even though I know that I’m repeating the same ideas or the other person isn’t that interested, etc. It’s kind of like a compulsion?
While this is obviously and understandably a very distressing situation for you, your blogging (and subsequent comments) are very interesting for me.
I will be 45 next month. 2 1/2 years ago I had a non-aneurysmal sub-arachnoid hemorrhage (cerebral hemorrhage). There was no aneurysm to repair, and my recovery has been most excellent, with most cognitive functions restored within the first year of recovery.
However, the first several months were a very confusing time for me. The analogy that best describes it is that someone went into my room, pulled every thing out of my drawers and cupboards, mixed it all up and stuffed it back in randomly. It was so confusing to go into my brain and look for something (a word or concept) that I knew was in there, yet not be able to find anything remotely connected to what I was searching for…
My recovery has been excellent, however it has not been perfect. I now have to write EVERYTHING down otherwise I forget it. I used to be so proud of my memory I also used to be able to type at a phenomenal speed with very few typos.
Since the hemorrhage I have had to learn to live with a slower pace and many more mistakes in both written (typed) and verbal communications. If I try to get back to my former typing speed my fingers and brain lose their synch and the mistakes increase. This is not confined to my typing, but also happens with my pen/pencil writing as well. I used to be impeccable with my spelling, however it is atrocious these days. And while I have learned to slow down, hit delete and go over and over again, or scratch it out with a pen, or otherwise compensate for my written mistakes, I have also had to learn to accept that I can not live up to my previous standards. There may be many typos, or not…it is inconsistent. I would rather put my energy into accepting who I am now, than into pressuring myself with false expectations based on the past.
Perhaps it is a little easier to cut myself some slack after the life changing experience of a brain hemorrhage. Nonetheless I still often find my mouth saying something completely different from what I am clearly thinking in my mind (or when I don’t notice, my partner is sure to point it out to me). It is somewhat disconcerting, and yet can be very amusing at the same time.
I have chalked my new cognitive differences up to both post hemorrhage and perimenipausal brain. I haven’t noticed a cyclical/hormonal pattern. However, I have observed all sorts of interesting patterns as to where I “file” things in my brain. Now that things have been tidied up and put back in the drawers of my brain, I am often amused to find how I categorize and group some words/concepts.
I wish you the best in your journey of discovery. Keep us posted!
Thank you for leaving such a detailed comment about your experience. That sounds scary and hard. I’m glad you’ve seen so much improvement since the initial event. You’re right about the need to cut ourselves some slack. I think the fact that this has crept up so slowly and has no identified cause is a big part of why I’m being so hard on myself and getting so frustrated with it (as opposed to say having a catastrophic brain event).
Slowing down is a good suggestion. I may have to work on making myself focus on quality over speed or somehow inhibiting my natural typing speed a bit. I’ve also decided this morning (inspired by your comment) to stop backspacing and instead just keep going, then go back and fix all the typos using the autocorrect/spellcheck feature. The backspacing seems to actually result in more errors overall, though i’m not sure why.
Can I ask whether you’re on the spectrum? You don’t have to answer, of course, but I’m curious whether your language and other cognitive difficulties are solely due to the hemorrhage or if there is some contribution of ASD as well. My brain has a fundamentally atypical filing system to begin with. 🙂
Yes I’m on the spectrum, tho I’m not officially dx’d. Apparently I’m too old and too functional to get a dx! You can read my blog entries about my trying to get a referral to dx it if you click through my user name – no worries if you don’t – you need to take care of your brain.
My dad got an official dx a couple of years ago, at the age of 74. He’s not as functional as I am, tho’ our gender differences and gender expectations may have a lot to do with that. His mother (still alive at 97) is likely an Aspie too. And, my 4 year old is most defninately an Aspie, tho I’m going to delay getting an official dx for her (don’t know how long a delay really) as I’m waiting for a little more enlightenment to enter into how Aspie children are treated before I subject her to any medical patholigization of her brain.
I don’t know if my Aspergers has anything to do with my brain hemorrhage. Sometimes I wonder if it was an extreme meltdown/shutdown. Before it hit, I had been too busy and too stressed for months and months. For a couple of months I had been saying out loud to my nearest and dearest that “I am doing too much. I’m not on a sustainable path. I need to slow before life slows me down.” Then WHAM! Life slowed me down right quick.
It didn’t change my wiring. It was more like my CPU crashed and took many, many months to reboot. Then the batteries didn’t hold a charge for a long while. Then I was recovered but with some memory effects.
Things are filed back pretty much where they were before. And, the experience has given me a whole new appreciation for my brain, along with new information (needless to say brains and neurology were my special interest for a good amount of time). It also gave me the opportunity to witness my own atypical filing system. Sometimes it’s a real hoot.
I just read your blog posts about seeking a diagnosis and I’m really sorry you had to go through that. It sucks that we have to suffer because the gatekeepers in the medical system are ignorant. It sounds like you’ve come to an okay place with being self-diagnosed though, which is good. The piece of paper is nice to have but it doesn’t change who you are in any way.
You have 4 generations of aspies! I think actually most families do, even if they don’t realize it.
Your descriptions of your experience with the brain hemorrhage and recovering from it are fascinating to me. You seem to have a great perspective on what’s important in life and how you want to go forward. Hearing about your experience is helping me adjust my expectations in a positive way.
My immediate reaction is that I wish you’d see a doctor about this.
I’m 48, and I do experience some of this, especially when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. It’s probably also tied to perimenopause and cycles. But not to the point where it’s debilitating. You’ve been grappling with this for a while and are concerned, and that’s reason enough to get it checked out, if it’s financially feasible. That way, you can put it to rest.
In the meantime, please consider pasting some text in at the end of your original posts explaining that while you would like to reply promptly and at length to everybody’s posts, this isn’t always possible, but that everyone can rest assured that you are reading and appreciating everything, etc.
That’s definitely in the near future plans if this doesn’t resolve itself. This almost feels like the back and forth that I did before getting my autism evaluation – the idea that I might be exaggerating or imagining it.
Adding a note to posts (and/or to my About page, I think) is a great idea. That way new readers will know that I love comments, etc.
My little boy really has troubles with words. He struggled with speaking until we started him on fish oil, specifically Nordic Naturals 369. When he doesn’t take them, he loses words, pauses during speech and his sentencea are very simple. An adult would probabaly need three or four capsules a day.
That’s an interesting perspective. I know that the fatty acids in fish oil have been studied in relation to different forms of cognitive decline and cognitive-based developmental delays.
I’ve tried taking fish oil but I have to admit I didn’t really notice a difference, except that it took me two weeks to figure out why my burps kept tasting of seafood. Yeah, my brain isn’t all that quick all the time.
😀 My husband took it for a while (I don’t’ remember why) and had the same problem. There are supposed to be forms that don’t have any taste but he didn’t see a difference with the one he tried and finally stopped taking it. Given my aversion to anything fishy smelling or tasting I never tried it.
Fishy burps usually means the oil is going rancid and isn’t really doing much good. You should notice a difference in 3 to 14 days. B vitamins are sometimes the culprit as well, but they didn’t help my son. They were very beneficial for my dad after he was sick for a while.
Hi – sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments to the post – I just wanted to say that I have always thought you write beautifully – yours are some of my favourite blog posts aesthetically as well as in terms of ideas. Lizx
Thank you 🙂
I’m getting this too!!! For instance, while reading books to my kids at night I skip words, alter words, or read words that aren’t even there. Or I skip ahead and say a word that is two lines down. Or – the other night – I couldn’t say a couple words. Not pronunciation difficulties but actual inability to speak the words. I couldn’t process. Like Apraxia. Don’t know if it’s hormonal (I’m 40) or Autistic burnout… But it’s pretty freaky and I’m displeased.
It’s so frustrating and I sympathize with your displeasure. Hopefully it’s temporary for all of us!
Don’t be scared. That’s like in long distance running when symptoms of ‘bad physical state’ comes up on the 25th km and you make special efforts, take carbohydrates and finally overcome it. The same with autistic symptoms. They become stronger sometimes, sometimes they let you relief. Sometimes you take it easy, sometimes need special efforts. All of our life is like that.
Autism is so different, probably that’s only my own situation.
I know how hard is it to loos communication because of this language frustration. Normally I am not very successful is supporting people because I rare get their need in support and actual reasons for their frustration but actually I want you to continue this blog just because It’s brilliant. It give me plenty of really useful and important information that I need in my everyday life. In my country the level of professional help to autistic adults is on a very poor level. Such blogs are really helpful and as for me it does not so important do you make language mistakes or not.
Thank you for the words of support. I think the scary part is not so much the symptoms themselves but the issue of not knowing where the “bottom” is, so to speak. New glitches keep cropping up, piling on top of the old, and there doesn’t seem to be a stable state so far.
“The missing words are no longer just small words like a or the. Now I also skip right over important words, and sometimes pairs of words. A particularly bad sentence might have three words missing.
Sometimes I repeat phrases, typing things like “I was about to about to change directions.” Those are fairly easy to catch when editing.
Verb forms have become interchangeable at times, which results in me sending ridiculous texts like “I’m exciting to see you” and mixing tenses in paragraphs.
Contractions are occasionally problematic, specifically leaving off the apostrophe and what comes after it.
The weird word substitutions continue, perhaps more frequently, definitely in more obvious forms. Also substituting homonyms like to/too and you’re/your, even though I know the correct usage and it drives me bonkers when other people do this.
My spelling has become erratic. In some writing sessions, I backspace over every third word, often more than once until I get it right. The biggest problem seems to be the letters coming out in the wrong order. Yesterday I tried to type Walmart into my GPS and I had “mwla” before I realized that wasn’t going to get me to where I needed to go.”
I can say “that’s a thing” to pretty much all of the above as you listed them. I’m only noticing that they are a thing because I’m seeing them pointed out here via your posts. I have done all of the things you mention above. Some more than others, and more so when I am tired, or over stimulated. It happens when I am writing (typing) as well as when I am speaking.
I know that I have always thought faster than I could write or type so that can trip me up.
Other times I don’t even realize that I have typed part of the same sentence twice and till (case in point – that should have said “until”) I go back to proofread and see what I have done, because I had no idea I had done it. I don’t know if it is something that has gotten worse as I have gotten older, or that I have always done it.
I’ll definitely pay even more attention now to see if the patterns change.
I’ll be interested to see what sort of patterns you discover, if any. Since writing this post, I’ve noticed that the problems are as specific as the ones I listed and also more amorphous – things like not registering that something is a question, not being able to organize my thoughts to write, not being able to get words to resolve into meaningful form at a glance – generally stuff that’s harder to explain to people who aren’t in my head. 🙂
Right now I feel like I’m in a nice plateau phase after a couple of months of being hyperaware of negative changes, which seems to be the pattern. A few months of discovering new glitches followed by a period of relative stability where all of the accumulated glitches are present but I seem to be adapting my way around many of them or at least learning to ignore them better. Then another dip followed by another plateau and so on.
I dont know if I have finally got somewhat of an answer to.a.problem I.have had since I was a teenager or earlier. i have always had this problem with communiacating . It.has been my worst enemy. i always.wonder why people would.tell me.i.said one thing but i swore i.didnt say the things they said i said. if that makes.sense. I.have.been in many arguments unneccezsarily because the people.say im.saying things one.way and im thinking i said. Something totally differnt for example.we.would talk about a.certain subject…i would be agreeing with the person i am.speaking with but.they.say.i.am not. I sadly to.say have lost many boyfriend because of this problem i have.had.and.even been a victim.of.mental.and physical abuse to the point i would.wish i could cut my tounge out so.i. couldnt speak so people wouldnt.be.so.mean. i try to tell them.and.warn people.i.have.a.problem.talking that.what.comes out of my mouth.is not.what.i.thought.i.said.or meant to say. I.remeber.wishing that people.could.simply.read.my mind then.i.wouldnt go through.this frustrating problem i have. The more.someone tells.me.im.talkingwrong the.worst it gets. I am.49 years old.now.but feel.like. 109. I believe.something is wrong i wish i knew.what. i am a little excited to find out that i hve a legit.problem speKing but at.the.same time.scary to. Things are way worse.then.ever i never had to much of a.problem.spelling.was.my.best subject but.now.i.am realizing i am.making alot.of mistakes i.thought the.auto correct was to blame too. Sorry for.all.the mistakes. Dont want to go over and fi. Them all i.just needed to get this off my chest. I hope there is.an.answer and.a cure.or.at least an understanding ezpecially from my friends and family.who just think im.dumb. sorry so.long.winded i.have so much to.say.and.feel.like.i.can talk.with no.one.judging me…..i got some hope today because of this blog.that made me.believe.im.not.craZy or.dumb but just someone i. Need of desperate.help and friendz for.support have agreat.day.everyone!
It’s very interesting to read this. I’m sorry that you are having such a hard time. I recently was on a conference call, where the first 10 minutes or so was accidentally recorded on my voicemail system, and it was fascinating to listen to it because I had thought I had said all kinds of stuff but when I listened to the recording it turned out that I was only thinking of things I could say but didn’t actually verbalize them. I did say some things, but I didn’t say all the stuff I had been thinking.
Maybe you could experiment by asking a family member if it would be ok to record a conversation, and then listen to it afterwards. Maybe that would help you sort things out.
Hi Lori. I know exactly how you feel. I am constantly misunderstood. There have been countless times in my life when people have given me the impression that what I said is the exact opposite of what I meant. I too find it incredibly frustrating. You’re not alone.
I’m almost constantly arguing and disagreeing with my best friend who I’ve known for a very long time, since 1998. We talk a lot about economics and politics and stuff like that. Almost invariably we find that we actually feel the same way about what we disagree on after talking our positions out, but in the mean time there is a communication mix-up and we think we have opposite opinions.
Like you I have had fallings out with people, lost friendships and been asked to leave places for saying the wrong thing. I get so frustrated when this happens because I try to explain that’s not what I meant, but I seem to make it worse.
I wish I could help you with some advice on how to fix it, but I can’t. I can empathise with you though. Lots of people experience the same frustrations every day. At least you know you’re not alone 🙂
I have come to accept this miscommunication as a part of who I am. In a way I don’t think it really matters anyway, people will project their unconcsiously held beliefs onto the world around them no matter what we say.
As a comment it’s a bit late, but I’ve had exactly the same problems as you describe since I started having thyroid problems and got medication for that at age 23. As I teach a language, it was and is very frustrating and scary sometimes. I’m now 29 and still have these problems, sometimes more, sometimes less. At first I thought it was something neurological, or my Asperger, but when I drew a time line I realized it was related to my hormonal problems (i.e. the thyroid).
(Pre-)menopause sounds like a probable cause in your case.
I learned to live with it and my students tend to help me fill the gaps: they know that when I start waving my hands looking frustrated and annoyed whilst making unintelligible sounds I’m probably looking for a word. They also love correcting me if I say something wrong.
I have this problem all the time. It’s been there for ever for me. What’s different for me is I never saw it as an issue. I expect to see missing words or incorrect words when I write something and I usually have a chuckle at myself when I catch those uncooperative words. I’ve never realised this could be related to autism before, but it makes perfect sense now and I’m surprised I hadn’t picked up on the connection before.
I also have big problems deciphering verbal communication, especially with new people. And like you it is especially bad if I can’t see the persons lips. It also causes me significant difficulty if a person moves a lot while talking or is particularly expressive. It sounds like a blur of noises in that person’s voice, where I only catch every 3rd or 4th word.
The spelling thing happens a lot. At least a dozen times a day I’ll write a word with all the right letters, but in the wrong order. I tend to do it with the same words and in the same ‘wrong’ order all the time.
I am not an expert by far, but I have experienced all of these things and more. I know that for me it is multiple things coming together to make language processing difficult. Thanks to auto- fill and spell check, my insane dyslexic ramblings actually become something that is at least half readable. I think that perhaps you are experience something like what I have… A kind of smash-up of aphasia, dyslexia, and just plain old overload… I know that for me these problems are made much worse by stress-especially the “hidden” kind of stress. It probably is related to the same thing that contributes to a lower threshold for sensory stimuli, like the brain is just so exhausted from dealing with stress, plus all that extra sensory stuff that the world is always throwing at us. I get overload and it just burns me out- using all the backup power and draining my capacity for all those little tasks like language, decision and planning, time, and my “filter” that I use to block out all the background noise.
I am so dreading menopause now… More than I already did anyway. I’m in my twenties and already doing every single one of those bullet points you made! Sometimes all at once in one nice, big, incoherent sentence. Maybe by the time menopause sets in it’ll be so second nature to constantly proofread and correct stuff I’ll barely skip a beat. I have noticed an expected connection with distraction. Lots of noise, lost in thought, etc., lead to a greater chance of weird writing. Jumbling up the letters in a word used to happen just on the keyboard when one finger would get more excited than the other. Now I’m finding I do that when writing by hand too.
I hope your regression and writing issues is just tied to the hormonal flux of menopause and you’ll be back to yourself when it ends. If not sooner. I can imagine the frustration I’d feel if something similar got in the way of my drawing since that’s my release.