decontextual laughter


“Additionally, she did demonstrate certain idiosyncratic tendencies … Several instances of decontextual laughing were also observed.”

~ Excerpt from Brooke’s last neuropsychological evaluation


Periodically, Brooke bursts out laughing. I mean all out belly laughing. Cracking herself up, doubled over, can’t breathe kind of laughing.

And we have no idea what’s so funny. Maybe we’re not paying attention. Maybe we just don’t get the joke.

We used to ask, but it became a circular script.  The questions still unearth the last vestiges of her echolalia.

“Brooke honey, what’s so funny?”

“So funny.”

“What are you laughing about?’

“Avout” (with a ‘v’)

We’ve gotten so much better at decoding the mysteries of the melt-downs, but the fits of laughter remain their own puzzle.

But here’s the thing –

As much as the laughter may be inappropriate at times, it seems altogether inane to try to curb it. For heaven’s sake, why would anyone want to ‘cure’ spontaneous bouts of joy?

Is there anything more pure than a child’s laughter? Is there anything more life affirming? It’s like fresh air. I can think of nothing that fills my soul and renews my spirit the same way.

Someday I hope she’ll let us in on the inside joke. In the meantime, yuck it up, baby girl. Yuck it up!

31 thoughts on “decontextual laughter

  1. Love this post. My daughter does the exact same thing. I don’t know what’s so funny, but her laughter is music to my ears! Always puts a smile on my face, and I have never once thought of trying to stop the “inappropriateness” of it.

  2. Thanks to Rhemashope for forwarding this post to us! Our daughter is also a wild spontaneous laugher. In fact, her school called a functional behavior team meeting today in order to formulate a plan to combat the silliness. My favorite from your post, “For heaven’s sake, why would anyone want to ‘cure’ spontaneous bouts of joy?”. Couldn’t we all benefit from the ability to summon a great belly laugh out of nowhere and without the need for reason. Count me in.

  3. You know, I wondered about this very same issue. My son, Pip, does it every now and again. It cracks us all up. Personally, I think half of things are all in the way you see them. This one, I see as comic relief for the entire family.

  4. “Decontextual laughing?” I’ve always referred to Hayden’s spontaneous laughing fits as “unadulterated joy.” I’m grateful for this particular quirk in my son! Like Karen says, it’s all in the way you see it.

  5. my son also. he’s at a place now, at age 8, where he can tell us what’s so funny. it’s usually a line from a movie. the latest is a quote from “The Wild”. I’m not sure what the actual line is, but what he says sounds like, “I dont care if I’m , I’m getting off this right now!” and then he laughs hysterically. Not laughing along is not an option. Pure, genuine unhindered laughing is always a joyous thing, no matter the cause.

  6. Love this post! My son is the happiest guy I know, his laughter lifts you up and instantly puts you in a good mood! Like you, we don’t always know what is funny to him but if it makes him feel good then laugh away, life is too short! 😀

  7. At our house, the bouts of uncontrollable laughter are usually followed by a ‘toot’ in his pants, which just makes us all laugh along with him even more! Laughter = all good!

  8. I do hope that one day my granddaughter will be able to tell me what’s so funny at times. However, her inability to explain her mirth doesn’t make her (or our) enjoyment of it less valid. Just because I don’t know what’s funny doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a great reason to be laughing that sweet, bubbling, giddy laugh of hers.

  9. J does the same thing. He will say something that isn’t funny in the slightest, or try to make a joke, and just laugh and laugh. Or sometimes, he just laughs until he can barely breathe. I don’t mind those times at all. I would take a thousand jokes over one sobbing till he can barely breathe meltdown.

  10. Zeke does this too :). He laughs so hard that he looses his breath and gets the hiccups. We just adore it……reading this just MADE my day! You are so right….”As much as the laughter may be inappropriate at times, it seems altogether inane to try to curb it. For heaven’s sake, why would anyone want to ‘cure’ spontaneous bouts of joy?”

    My husband and I often think he is just laughing about how little we and everyone else know….because he truly is the genius in this house ;)!

  11. We’ve had a specialist try to analyze Mason’s fits of laughter too, saying that we really need to know if he hears voices and such. I told the guy to cram it and said that if my son was hearing voices they were obviously the good ones since he was laughing so hard. You can probably imagine how inappropriate he found my response. Who cares why they’re laughing, they’re laughing and since we don’t get to experience it as much as most parents we don’t mind letting them yuck it up until they chuck it up.
    You should really make her laughter your ring tone. My cell has Mason cracking up at something he found funny in a book. Whenever I feel bad about not being to help him with his meltdowms, I just choose that ringtone and it makes me happy. I love hearing the sound of laughter, in my house, especially during the school year it is very rare. Sometimes when he’s having a bad day I play it for him and it gets him laughing too.

  12. I can completely relate. There is a difference between the moments when my son laughs at something that is clearly amusing and the moments when he just cracks over something that none of can figure out. Those times he usually laughs so deeply. Even though I can see that it is not really appropriate behavior, I still love it. His laughter brings such joy to all of us. Appropriate or not.

  13. My little man does this as well from time to time. Fits of uncontrollable laughter. I’ve always figured that he’s remembering something that happened. Something in the moment triggers something that he recalls, like giggly deja vu. I think its great. I wish I were prone to fits of spontaneous laughter. I think my days would be that much brighter with a case of the giggles from time to time. 🙂

  14. BTW: I LOVE the pics of her in this post. She has grown so much. She’s a budding little lady now, not just the cutie pie little girl I see in these pics. It always floors me to see how much and fast our children grow. Makes me not want to blink, in case I miss something.

  15. Thank you. Cymbie does the same thing and I always feel strange that I’m made to feel it is a problem. All of you sharing makes me feel so much better, and I won’t ever think I should feel or do anything other than laugh right along with her.

  16. Life ain’t nothing but a funny funny riddle!

    This is what my wife and I use when our son bursts into laughter.

  17. My son Ian does this, too, and it’s amazing to read all the comments… I had no idea it was so common! And thank goodness for that, because that laugh is almost enough to make me forget about every other thing in the word, just for a minute. I get lost in that laugh. It’s like a little glimpse at the pure, shining, joyful being that my son is, despite everything else that is wrapped around that light. Yes, why would anyone want to curb that kind of joy? We should all be so lucky!

  18. Now this is one mystery I am in no hurry to solve – I love the laughter, it’s the best sound on God’s earth!! Enjoy yours!!

  19. My daughter does the exact same thing…I love it! And it never fails to put a smile on the faces of people around her.

  20. At our house, when Olivia’s belly laughing episodes randomly appear, we say that my late father must be making silly faces or dancing around for her. Seems like a silly solution to this mystery, but who knows? 🙂

    And the times when she wakes in the middle of the night and belly laughs for an hour in the pitch blackness of her bedroom, I can’t help but laugh myself. It’s infectious.

    She cannot contain the laughter. That makes it all the more precious- hearing the laugh spill from her soul. It is truly a gift on this journey.

  21. This is a thousand kinds of awesome. I think I need to do what Mason’s mom suggested and make Nik’s laughter my ring tone. Awesome. Or a youtube video I can put on endless loop…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s