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Letter counting/alphabetizing

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Susan, I can understand your son wanting to stop. Sometimes it drives me mad that I count and alphabetize persistently but if my mind has plenty to occupy it then the counting becomes a bit quieter - kind of like wallpaper.

I do a similar thing to your son in that I count in multiples even if I know the multiples don't match. I also group letters into multiples - to take the earlier example of ' the dog is really hungry' I would see it as 'thedog really hungry' and then add 'is'. I see patterns in everything and will count the same pattern over and overandover if a new one doesn't present itself.

When I was a child (maybe 9 or 10) I remember I used to make little noises in my throat. I'd make these in patterns (maybe 4 noises 4 times). I grew out of this when I was still quite young, more or less by forcing myself to stop doing it as I knew other people could hear and thought I was weird. I am now 35 and still count and alphabetize but it in no way interferes with my life.

I also agree with toosilly that it's good to make sue you're physically active. My brain shuts down much more easily at night if my body has been tired out.

I don't know if I can give any advice to you or your son other than, if it's not interfering with everyday life then why worry about it. Why don't you let your son read these posts so he can see that he isn't any different to thousand of other alphabetizers al over the world (I'm from Northern Ireland btw).

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Hi, just found this forum and i'm glad i'm not the only one.

 

My mind is crammed to bursting counting the numbers of letters in sentences with a prefernce for groups of 3 letters. Often altering the sentence by spelling it differently to fit my need of groups of 3. Even writing this, i can't stop doing it. It's driving me crazy!

 

The groups of 3 especially in names seem to put me at ease.

 

HELP, i'm going nuts!!

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Okay ThomasJames, here's the deal: Your brain is on hyper-drive!! You need to figure out what it takes to calm it down when it gets like this. I recommend:

 

1. Exercise. Something that really works up a sweat and tires you out. MAJORLY helpful.

 

2. Medication. Nothing outrageous, just talk to your doctor and tell him you're doing obsessive/compulsive things with your brain, and you need some rest. He'll probably prescibe an anti-anxiety med, and then monitor you for awhile until you get the dosage right for you. Don't let the stigma of "being on meds" keep you from doing this. It's an actual physiological thing that's going on, even though it's probably fed by situational things. Okay? Okay.

 

3. Avoid caffeine and sugar foods/drinks. Wean yourself off the coffee, sodas, and sweets, and see if that helps. It will.

 

4. Eat protein. I'm serious. Sounds simple, but it really does help to eat protein in small amounts throughout the day and keep your blood sugar as stable as possible. Go figure.

 

So...give these a shot, and tell us how your body responds, okay? I can't imagine that these won't help ALOT. You have kindred spirits here on this website, but only YOU can do what it takes to calm your brain down. Keep us posted,

Cheryl

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I think i'll ring the doctor in the morning and make an appointment. This is keeping me from enjoying talking to people as it is all i can think about. Thanks for the advice. i didn't think it would be anything the docotor could help with.

 

I'm not at all bothered about the stigma that goes with taking meds, its the taking them i can't do!

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Good, I'm glad to hear you're not opposed to taking meds, they really can help. As I said, I take a low-dose Lexapro every day, and it helps, but it doesn't take it away. I still have to exercise (I think this is THE most helpful advice of all, besides the meds), try to avoid too much caffeine, etc. All these things keep me from feeling crazy-anxious, but I still can't turn off my brain as much as I'd like to. I still do the letter-balancing thing, and some other tic things, too. If your doctor suggests a certain medication, please share it with us on this blog. I really can't imagine what life would be like without my brain constantly working!! But I'd sure like to give it a try.

Cheryl

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I do have to weigh in here and comment that for some people, the medications prescribed for OCD can and do have very severe and unpleasant side effects. So for many people, they do not avoid meds because of any stigma, they avoid them because of those side effects.

 

there are alternative ways of treating OCD that are very effective for those that prefer not to use prescription drugs

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Well, saw the doctor and he has never come across it before. Not unusual. He did say not to label it as OCD just yet though as it's not to that point.

 

He really couldn't say what meds, if any to prescribe and is going to look for someone who has dealt with this before (adult psychologist) .

 

He was interested in knwoing what others were prescribed though. So, if you're pill pushing, do share with us all :-D

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My mind is crammed to bursting counting the numbers of letters in sentences with a prefernce for groups of 3 letters. Often altering the sentence by spelling it differently to fit my need of groups of 3. Even writing this, i can't stop doing it. It's driving me crazy! The groups of 3 especially in names seem to put me at ease.

 

 

I cannot tell you how exciting/relieving it is to hear someone else talk about my compulsion literally word for word. Not sure if it's actually a compulsion, or an obsession, or what it is. But since I was about 12 years old (when I learned to type, coincidentally?) I've counted multiples of three in sentences I read, when others talk, or even just the thoughts in my head. If any given sentence doesn't work out to a multiple of three I try to add commas or change punctuation, like exclamation points or question marks, to make it work out to a multiple of three. I don't pay attention to it when I am actually typing like right now - well, I pay attention but I don't go back to change anything I've written. So basically I can completely relate and I wonder if you noticed when you started doing this, and if it perhaps coincided with when you started typing? I believe that's when I started but I'm not positive.

 

While it does plague me sometimes when I'm lying in bed late at night, for the most part I'm ok with it - my friends and family just like to pop quiz me about how many letters are in the words that they shout out.

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e.i.e., your brain-typing thing sounds so much like mine, except that I don't bunch things into threes, I just make sure everything's even on both sides of the keyboard. I'm sure that particular brain exercise started when I learned how to type (in early high school), but I know I'd already started doing weird word things way before that time. My friends and family get a big kick out of my ability to tell them instantly how many letters are in a word too, but they've labeled me an "idiot savant". :) (They're just jealous...)

 

ThomasJames, as far as meds, I only know about Lexapro, which (I've been told) is an anti-anxiety med that also works as an anti-depressant. I understand that many anti-OCD meds have nasty side effects and therefore aren't worth taking. So...maybe just have your doctor prescribe a low-dose anti-anxiety (like Lexapro) and see if that takes the edge off a little, then check out some of the websites listed on this blog that deal with non-prescription ways to deal with OCD. I'm planning on checking into Cognitive Behavior Therapy, but don't know where to go for such a thing. I'm wondering if I can just put a monster rubberband around my wrist and "flick" myself with it whenever I catch myself doing the counting thing...?!?! Worth a try!!

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Hi all,

 

Only last night my son (he's 8) told me he thought was a bit "weird", he was laughing about it so I was not too concerned. When I asked him why he told me that he always counts the letters in words to see if their an odd or even number. He also said he has a method to work this out quickly, by moving his hand up and down. I reassured him that we all have habits that we might think are a bit "weird" and that this is nothing to worry about: because we all think some of the things we do are weird we never say anything, so we never know how common it is.

 

As soon as he told me about this I realised he has been doing it for ages, I don't know exactly when it started but I have been aware of him really concentrating on other peoples talk and quietly sounding the letters out for a good few years, but whenever I've asked him what he's doing he's never told me . Anyway, because of this revelation I thought I'd have a look on the internet today and see if there was any info about this - lo and behold I found this forum.

 

Although I wasn't too concerned I feel reassured to know that so many other people do this and that it doesn't affect their lives too much. He is incredibly bright but I have been worried about him being rather isolated. He does have friends and is happy at school, but he doesn't have any really good friends and hasn't been invited to a birthday party for over 3 years now. When he does have people round to play he is always talking; he has a really busy mind and, although I try and get him to "slow down" and give other people room to talk, he can't help it. He has also been bullied in the past and I think his enthusiasm for the smallest things, his high emotions, his constant talking and wanting to be involved might have caused him to be targeted. I love these qualities and think they make him unique and incredbly special but I do worry that they might partly cause his isolation. Each time he tells me about some "new" behaviour I start wandering if he actually has a medical condition that might be contributing to his troubles and if there is anything better we could be doing.

 

Could his other "problems" be related to OCD? If anyone could give any advice or comment then please do,

Thanks

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Thanks for the info, Chemar (and for all the other info you've given us, too!)

 

raq: Being particularly bright does tend to separate you from the rest of the flock. I'm guessing your son may be very creative, too. If you can help him experiment with different creative outlets, he may find one that he just loves, and sometimes having a creative outlet like that is really therapeutic. And it gives you a "niche" (it's something you know you're good at, it's part of your separate identity) and that always help self esteem. And it opens doors to hang out with like-minded people. So, just an idea.

 

I have to remind you to be sure he's getting plenty of physical exercise - this helps alot!!! Otherwise all that mental energy gets backed up and probably makes him feel like he's going to crawl right out of his skin - heavy exercise helps release a lot of that tension. (Sometimes, if he's feeling particularly hyper, you can turn up the music and dance crazy through the house with him. Have him follow you first, then you follow him - fun, bonding, and very cathartic! My kids always loved it.) ^_^

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I am sitting here in tears because I am so happy that I have FINALLY found people that have a similar "problem". My word counting is a little weird. My brain will pick up words, no matter what I am doing, and I will count consonants on one hand and vowels on the other. Then, the consanants and vowels must be divisible by the number of syllables in the word. Anyone else do this or ever heard of it?? I am in desperate need of help here. I feel like I am going insane. I think this started when I was in elementary school or a little later, but has NEVER been this bad. It is actually keeping me awake at night, along with my other worries. I was finally able to tell my husband a few months ago. We have been married for almost 13 years. That should tell you how embarassed I am. I cried the whole time I was telling him about it and I honestly don't know if I can bring myself to tell a doctor. I just feel so stupid! Any similar stories or advice would be very, very appreciated!!

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Hi all,

 

Only last night my son (he's 8) told me he thought was a bit "weird", he was laughing about it so I was not too concerned. When I asked him why he told me that he always counts the letters in words to see if their an odd or even number. He also said he has a method to work this out quickly, by moving his hand up and down. I reassured him that we all have habits that we might think are a bit "weird" and that this is nothing to worry about: because we all think some of the things we do are weird we never say anything, so we never know how common it is.

 

As soon as he told me about this I realised he has been doing it for ages, I don't know exactly when it started but I have been aware of him really concentrating on other peoples talk and quietly sounding the letters out for a good few years, but whenever I've asked him what he's doing he's never told me . Anyway, because of this revelation I thought I'd have a look on the internet today and see if there was any info about this - lo and behold I found this forum.

 

Although I wasn't too concerned I feel reassured to know that so many other people do this and that it doesn't affect their lives too much. He is incredibly bright but I have been worried about him being rather isolated. He does have friends and is happy at school, but he doesn't have any really good friends and hasn't been invited to a birthday party for over 3 years now. When he does have people round to play he is always talking; he has a really busy mind and, although I try and get him to "slow down" and give other people room to talk, he can't help it. He has also been bullied in the past and I think his enthusiasm for the smallest things, his high emotions, his constant talking and wanting to be involved might have caused him to be targeted. I love these qualities and think they make him unique and incredbly special but I do worry that they might partly cause his isolation. Each time he tells me about some "new" behaviour I start wandering if he actually has a medical condition that might be contributing to his troubles and if there is anything better we could be doing.

 

Could his other "problems" be related to OCD? If anyone could give any advice or comment then please do,

Thanks

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Rag2177,

 

It sounds as if our sons have very similar habits. I don't know if you read about my son (he's 9)in earlier posts, but he too, recently told me that he counts letters not only while people are talking but on the wall, within the books he's reading, signage, etc. He also has some other number issues as well. He is also a very bright child and is constantly moving and talking. He's always been that way. He talks nonstop (even in his sleep). Does your son have any tics or involuntary twitching? My son does, but it's very mild.

 

I took my son to the doctor and he suggested not to worry about it unless I see that it's interfering with his everyday life. I, too, can see his little mind racing while we're talking to him...now I know that he's counting our words. I don't see that it's affecting him in a negative way; however, he has asked me to find a way to help him stop. I still haven't figured out how without medication (which we're opposed to for now).

 

By the way, the doctor doesn't consider this TRUE OCD unless it interferes with his daily routine. Have you taken your son to the doctor?

 

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

 

sbechtel

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