Thursday, May 25, 2006

Do you speak Babaganoush?

Does this ever happen to you?

Do you ever get a word stuck in your head so much that you are compelled to say it out loud? I'm not talking about a song that you find yourself humming or singing, though it's certainly similar to that. I mean finding yourself with a word - one single word - running through your head over and over.

It happens to me a lot, usually because I just like the way the word sounds. During the 1994 Olympics, it was the word "Lillehammer" for an entire week.

Try it: Lillehammer. LIL-lehammer.

Now do it like you're Arnold Schwarzenegger: Lillehammer!

See what I mean?

I wonder if this is the kind of thing people are talking about when they refer to shadow traits. I mean, really, this little quirk of mine must be at least a distant relative of Bud's echolalia.

Bud and I had a "Lillehammer" experience together recently.

We were playing an alphabet game we invented that's called "Tell Me About." In this game, Bud uses one of the many alphabet scripts he has committed to memory (A is for apple, B is for banana; A is for alligator, B is for baboon; etc.) He announces the first category: "A is for apple. Tell me about apple."

I respond with something like, "Apples are crunchy and they grow on trees. Now you tell me about apples."

Then Bud says something like, "Apple is red and to eat." Then he moves on to B.

Anyway, in the particular script we were using that day, E was for eggplant. When instructed to tell about eggplant, I waxed poetic about the joy of parmigiana. I turned the conversation over to Bud, and he said "Eggplant is in Babaganoush." (I credit Grover with Bud's knowledge of this, incidentally.)

"That's right," I said. "Eggplant is in Babaganoush!"

"Babaganoush!" Bud sang.

"Babaganoush!" I sang back.

And we were off.







In a comment on a recent post, Kyra wrote: "frankly, we ALL stim, some more, some less."

I think she may be on to something.


Kristina Chew said...

Sort of like heroic epithets, but personalized.

MothersVox said...

And now you've made me want to say, "and babaganoush to you, too." Very contagious. Interesting. Stimming- perseverating-doing blog posts. Not so different some days.

SquareGirl said...

That's what I always tell people...we ALL stim.

I definitely stim on words! I love words! Babaganoush is a great one!

Camille said...


I think you are describing shadow Tourettes or shadow OCD.

I do this, where the word of the day or word of the week pops into my brain randomly, so if the word(s) was (were): "creme brulee," what I would experience in my head would be like:
I'm walking down the street thinking about how long it will take me to get to the bank... and I think to myself, "If I got to the bank and it's busy I'll have to wait in -creme brulee - (where did that come from?) line.

Sometimes the word is something that really bugs me and I hate it each time it pops in my head, "Judith and Holofernes" was one of those, it's from a couple of years ago. I think the words change about every day to 2 days. Sometimes they are entirely foreign words or short phrases.

Anyway, someone who has done a lot of research on Tourette's says it's the same as what Tourette's people do when the blurt out a random word, tic like. A psychiatrist told me he thought it was related to shadow OCD. I have sort of mild OCD traits, but not enough to get an OCD dx.

Anyway, autistics have an unusual relationship to words and it can be a lot of fun.

r.b. said...

Got a good laugh...thanks!

Alexander's Daddy said...

Funny words have come up many times in my coversation with my wife and my son's consultant and therapist. There are different words at different times that Alexander finds extremely funny. The funny word du jour is "Lucky". Before that it was "skunk". We had a team meeting yesterday and one of the topics was Alexander's use of these words which are funny to him. My wife already knows but I let the team members know that Alexander will likely always like to use funny words as I did both as a child and as an adult. When I was a child, I made up words which I thought were funny and would blurt them out in class all the time, much to the disgust of my teachers. Sometimes I was sent to the principal's office as a result of my constant "stimmy words". As I became an adult, "pre-Alexander", I reflected that I did these things because I wanted attention. However, I do it most when I'm alone, out of fear that others will find it wierd. For example, I have a cat named butterball. I rarely call him butterball when alone in the house with him. I'll call him Baba-ganou or Uncle Gababa. Now, here is the key as I see it: I scream these names and draw out the syllables to an obsurd level. We also have another cat which I do the same thing with. Weird huh? Today, "post Alexander" I now know that I do verbal stimming too. I'm sort of like the guy from the SNL skit many years ago that coined the phrase "Makin copies". Rich in the mailroom. As I observe my son more and more, it is clear to me that he and I are so much alike in so many ways. However, because I am somewhat functional now (but wasn't as a child), no one seems to believe me (even my wife) that Alexander is more like me. They see me as functional, but if they saw me as a child they too would understand that his behaviors are ok and are just a part of his personality and I don't want to eliminate them. Bud is lucky to have a mother that understands him so well. I was lucky too, my mother only saw the best in me.

Big Orange said...

hee, that happens to me, too. I also find myself doing the ol' repeat-a-word-until-it's-completely-meaningless-sound game, too. Sometimes I'll do it when putting spelling words on the board for my students: "because. B-E-C-A-U-S-E... ::signing:: because, because, because, because, becaaaauuuuse!! Ever seen Wizard of Oz? Beeee-cause... Be! Cuz! Be? Cuz!" and on and on and on, taking the word apart, stretching it out, so on.

I don't think it's only a BAP shadow trait, I think lots of people do it. I think parents of ASD kids may do it MORE because, in general, we're more aware of language development and aquisition than the general public. I mean, MOM-NOS you're practically a linguist yourself, carefully noting and analyzing Bud's speech, so it's only natural that words should take on a deeper meaning for you than the Average Joe.

Wendy said...

I thought I was the only person who got a word (not a song) stuck in my head and kept repeating it over and over. Nice to know I'm not alone.

And next time I'll repeat it to myself in an Arnold S. voice - too funny!

Joseph said...

Autistic traits occur in a continuum. There's no black and white division between autistic and non-autistic. This is seen in the distribution of scores in screening instruments. The AQ test is a fairly accurate instrument to tell where in the spectrum you are.

Alexander's Daddy said...

Joseph, I scored a 38 on the AQ test. I had my wife take the test for me, answering the questions the way she thought I might answer them and she came up with a 36.

Big Orange said...

follow-up: even before we left the midwest we were in the habit of calling our son "Bubba". Now that we're in the South, it's even MORE natural to call him Bubba and his little sister "Sissy" (throw an orange in any direction and you're likely to hit a male nicknamed Bubba of any age: it's funny; when one parent calls, "hey! Bubba!" on the playground, 5 kids stop and look around."

This morning, without even planning to, I found myself saying, "Hey, whatcha' doin over there, BUBBA-ganoush?"

You're wearing off on me, y'all know...

Joseph said...

Joseph, I scored a 38 on the AQ test. I had my wife take the test for me, answering the questions the way she thought I might answer them and she came up with a 36.

You score just about what I score. Not only that, you score higher than the average diagnosed HFA/Asperger autistic. About 2% of the adult population scores above 32-33. You must be in the top 1% or so. At a threshold of 33, about 60% meet threshold DSM-IV criteria. At 38, the odds have to be considerably higher.

While I'd hate to make an over-the-internet diagnosis, your score suggests that you are, in fact, autistic. Your wife is also likely autistic. And what we have here is a case of assortative mating. The cause of your child's autism is quite clear.

Joseph said...

AD: Ah, I just noticed your wife didn't take the test. So maybe assortative mating did not happen here, but your score still puts you in the spectrum almost certainly.

SquareGirl said...

By the way, I once read that most comedians know that words with a k sound in them make more impact and get more laughs. In fact this is why many name brands have that sound (Nike, Reebok, Coca-Cola, Cannon, Kodak, Kinko's...I could go on). Just thought of this because Alexander's daddy mentioned "Skunk" and "lucky", but it just makes me wonder what certain sounds and words prompt in our subconscious.

kyra said...

yes yes! i LOVE this! we do it in our house ALL THE TIME! frankly, my dh said nearly nothing BUT lillihammer in the voice of arnold s. during the ENTIRE olympics which was a riot. at least, at first...

i wish i could zip on over and riff on babaganoush with you and bud! i might do it this way like a little marching band chant: babaganoush, mamaganoush, papa and lapa and dapaganoush! or this way like the ancient call of a dinasaur: babaaaaaaa! ga! baba gaaaaaaaaaaaa! noosh noosh babagaba daaaaaaaaaaa! clearly, i could go on and on!

Wade Rankin said...

I suddenly have a great urge to greet everyone with a hearty "Faversham!"

Justthisguy said...

You are all such girls! The word I can't get out of my head is not a word, but a phrase, and an engineering phrase, at that:

Double-slotted Fowler flap!


laurentius rex said...

Absolutely I have a language of my own, I have even posted in it on the internet, you can google its words and it seems they are indeed unique to me.

Eshthonc a'calardi, eneshtich't alth'tacht

mind you I am somewhat dyslexic when it comes to transliterating it, it sounds like a wierd mixture of some proto gaelic language and nahuatl :)

Kaethe said...

Me too! Some of my favorites: defenestrate, serendipity, and pygmy marmoset.

Babaganoush has been added to the list.

SquareGirl said...

I just had to say that I was atching Last Comic Standing and they showed a small clip of some comedians waiting in line singing and chanting babaganoush! I thought of you and Bud!