Reordering letters

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Distinguished member
Jan 12, 2007
Mountain View
It is weird - I have tons of symptoms, many of them consistent with ALS, but as neurologists cannot figure out what's going on, they say I have nothing, healthy, period.

One of the most prominent symptoms that came forward in the last couple of months is that I started reordering letters while typing, a big way, almost in every second word: my left hand types them before the right one, so "the" becomes "teh", "figure" becomes "figuer" etc. I noticed it happenning to me a few years ago, but just recently it became really really bad, as if I cannot coordinate my hands at all. Does it sound familiar ? It interferes with my work a lot as I am a programmer.
Hi Pitch- sounds exactly like what I am experiencing but I couldn't figure out why. Now I see it is because my left hand types faster than my right. thanks for explaining one small mystery in my life!:-D

I do sympathize, though. I can rely on spell check but as a programmer it must be frustrating to you. I use a lot of graphics design software that is mostly clicking and dragging but I was wondering if, when or if my hands get worse, some other technology migh allow me to use the mouse without my hands. Kind of a "speaking naturally" for other than word-processing programs. If there is such a program, i wonder if it would allow you to write code?

Of course the folks who know about this are Quadbliss and maybe Zenarcher. guys?

Dragon 9 includes dictation and hands free mouse. I can point and click with it but haven't figured out how to drag although I believe there is a way to do this.

Apparently there is also a voice recognition program that comes with Wiindows. Almas Daddy knew how to use this and was willing to "tutor" when I was first looking into this.

Peg B also has expertise in this area.
WINDOWS VISTA - the new windows software has a really good speech recognition program built right in.

Be prepared to replace your computer with a new one if you want to use it as VISTA is resource hungry. Get a computer with a dual core, at least 1 gig of RAM and 100gig hard drive as a minimum. I recommend 2gigs of RAM and 250 gig hard drive as the cost these days is so affordable.


Dragon NaturallySpeaking has hands free aplication. I am not very good at it but you can tell the mouse - 'Mouse move left/right/up/down and it will do that. You say "stop" and it stops and will do single or double click when you say. "mouse double click" If you go to the global comands or say "What can I say?" there are instructions about "mouse grid" or mouse commands. I use the computer for word processing and I just did some experimenting with it but as I said I am not very good. I used to work with a student who was able to play some games using the mouse commands. I don't know how efficient it is, but it can work. I will experiment some more and see what I can find out. I have some reference books, but hopefully others can be of better help. Best Wishes, Peg
Joel- You are my new best friend! :-D I am scheduled to get windows vista and a new computer today. Actually it has been sitting in the middle of my office for a week, waiting for our IT guy to have time to hook it up. I am hoping to answer a lot of my questions once I get started. Thanks for the tip, Cindy
Cindy, thanks for your words - we can't have too many

The built in speech recognition software is very comprehensive and works better than you can imagine. Good luck and enjoy.
Hi ptich--I've had teh (that was not intentional, btw) same experience as you with typing. I'm pretty sure the fingers on my right hand aren't as fast as those on my left, and I'm right-handed. After reading about Dr. Olney diagnosing himself with ALS through a simple finger-tap-rate test (after having a number of other long-standing symptoms, primarily weakness), I looked into it some more. It seems that the rate of finger tapping is an indicator of upper motor neuron damage/dysfunction. I also saw a journal article indicating that it's probably a more reliable indicator of UMN damage than the Babinski sign. I have also read that the fingers (usually only the index is tested) on the dominant hand should have a slightly higher (~ 10% higher) rate than on the non-dominant hand. My left fingers have been faster than my right for several months now (and fwiw, I can't rhythmically drum my right index and middle fingers, but I can do so on my left hand). I'm in the same boat as you with respect to diagnosis--a lot of ALS-type symptoms, but basically in wait-and-see mode because they are currently pretty subtle. Hope this helps, although the implications seem not so good.
i do that all the time. I have always done that though, i just thought i was typing too fast.
Thanks craig. What kind of finger-tapping test you were refering to ?

My right hand is dominant, it is slightly stronger than my left one, and it is actually the left one where most of my upper limb symptoms are (Ulnar neuropathy and drilling feeling in teh hand).
Finger tapping rate revisited

Just wanted to update on the finger tapping issue. My dominant hand is now, on average, 21% faster that the non-dominant. This is a very large difference, and it grew somewhat over the last 2 years. But all other UMN symptoms I had had regressed, pretty much completely, and it is clear that I have neither ALS nor any persistent UMN defficiency in general.

So I believe that this finger tapping test is not sensitive to a real UMN damage at all. I suspect that my motor skills were more assymetric than average from the birth, or at least for very long time, and that's what this test is picking up. But this assymetry probably has little significance.
I found this thread interesting, but missed it the first time around. My left-side issues include what I believe to be dramatic left-hand typing problems. I ended up slowing down my right hand to meet the left hand's reduced speed and am now typing with much better accuracy than I did prior to having any fine motor issues! Go figure.

As for your (Ptich) self-measurement (?) of finger-tapping, did you take into account measurement error? That can inflate/deflate your measure, or perhaps your albeit temporary UMN signs take different amounts of time to recover from what ever it was that was causing them, with the finger tapping taking a little bit longer than the others. Seems like fine motor skills should take longer....think back to when we were is not like a reflex. We had to practice (with cheerios :grin:)

Nice to hear you are doing so much better.

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