June 24th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Why am I mixing up my words? Is this a learning disability?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Matthew, Mount Laurel, New Jersey

"I'm 45. Don't smoke, drink. Married since '93. Have 11-year-old sons, both diagnosed with Asperger's but mainstream and doing fine. Over the past year or so, I've caught myself saying a similar word to the one I'm thinking. Talking about pouring a "box" instead of bowl of cereal. Calling the boys down for "breakfast" instead of dinner. Reminding them to eat their "hot dog'"when they're clearly holding a hamburger. My family notes when this happens and it's worrying me. My wife (a special ed teacher) believes it's a learning disability and it's just becoming more pronounced as I age. I did go to speech lessons in elementary school. Does this sound like anything to look into?"


Language issues like the ones you describe, Matthew, can be relatively innocuous or they may be subtle, early clues about more serious problems occurring in the brain, such as a tumor or infection. You cannot be sure until you are checked out by a doctor, but what you are describing can occur in a brain disorder called aphasia or dysphasia.

It occurs when there is damage to regions of the brain that control language. According to the National Aphasia Association, about 1 million people in the U.S. deal with some form of aphasia. More specifically, your symptoms sound like something neurologists call semantic paraphasia. That is, substituting the word you intend for one that has a similar meaning.

"The word you're substituting is still within the context of the word you mean to say," said Dr. Olajide Williams, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center. "Instead of saying 'clock' you say 'watch' or instead of saying 'dinner' you say 'lunch.' Instead of saying 'spoon' you say 'fork,' and on down the line."

Semantic paraphasia is usually due to sudden brain trauma, such as a stroke or a blow to the head. Your symptoms sound different - like they have developed gradually. According to Williams, that would rule out a stroke, which typically occurs suddenly.  And he says that speech problems related to semantic paraphasia usually happen alongside other communication problems involving writing, reading, repetition and comprehension.

In your case, that may or may not rule out semantic paraphasia. What is left are a host of other possibilities. Neurodegenerative disorders, brain tumors, and brain infections affecting language areas of the brain could also be to blame.

Now before you become too concerned, you should follow your instinct and look into this further. Seek the advice of a neurologist, who will most likely give you a comprehensive language exam. The exam involves an evaluation of your speech - from basics to more complex tasks. You may also be tested for reading, writing and grammar to try to pick up brain abnormalities.

An important part of this complex equation is that you have had your symptoms for a relatively short period of time, so if there is a problem, you have a better chance of addressing it.

Good luck Matthew.

soundoff (2,468 Responses)
  1. Roblox Tips

    I am working on an educational website and the owners wanted an article section where I put articles they indicate on the site. The articles come from news/magazine and other online article/new sources. I have been listing ?Article Taken From: (URL)? and a link to the original article. I thought that was enough, but I have heard from a friend that it isn?t. . This site is NOT yet publicly online, so I can change things to be legal before it becomes a legal problem.. . What do I need as a citation to make sure I don?t infringe on anyone?s copyright?. Do I need to do anything else other than listing a citation & link to be legal?. . Thank You all for helping!. SRGR.


    February 8, 2021 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Game

    I am a 19 year old female quadriplegic and a mother of a two-year-old daughter. I am not able to work because of my disability but I do have a voice-activated computer and I know a lot about computers and the Internet. I want to start a website I do not know about what. I need IDEAS! I would like to make some profit on my website but I do not know how to do that or how to get companies to pay to put ads up on my website. I don't even know where to go to start my own website. I need lots and lots of help if someone would like to help me out or maybe be partners with me when the website starts making a profit you will get a portion of the profits..


    February 8, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Regulus Game

    I have a food blog on blogger and I would like to add a option to make it easy for people to print my recipes. Any help? I have looked at the few places the net has up but they do not seem to be good nor work. Thank you..


    February 8, 2021 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Game Trick

    Can you translate and post articles online from foreign news/magazines without fear of copyright infringement?


    February 8, 2021 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Roblox Tips

    Just bought a new laptop, not sure whether there is a way to take firefox bookmarks from old laptop to new laptop.. . Thanks..


    February 8, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Game Trick

    I was wondering if I could use the ebay logo as a picture in one of my blog posts about ebay. Can I do so with any web site as long as I'm not claiming to be that company?.


    February 8, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Regulus Game

    The screen in my blogger website is way too small. I don't know how to make it bigger, do you guys know how to make blogger videos in your site bigger? .


    February 8, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Game Trick

    I want to make my own website to sell things but I have no idea where to start.. I don't no what websites to go on, or how much it will be (or if there's any way i can do it for free?). Can someone give me as much information as possible and a website where i can start please?. I need as much help as possible..


    February 8, 2021 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Coin Master Tips

    How can I search blog posts from during the olympics?


    February 8, 2021 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Fortnite Tips

    Actually my blog name is not relevant to my blog niche..in this time i want to convert my blog to a website through blogger. but i dont know if i will do it ,then how much will affect my blog traffic?.


    February 8, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. chic sparrow nano

    Your personal style is very unique when compared with other individuals I've read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you've got the means,
    Guess I will just book mark this page.

    Also visit my web-site: chic sparrow nano

    February 9, 2021 at 03:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. https://europa-road.eu/hu/nemzetkozi-fuvarozas-szekesfehervar.php

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    February 9, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. KbcxMile

    erectile dysfunction pills walgreens pharmacy online discount pharmaceuticals

    February 9, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. online vape shop hardware reddit

    Wonderful post however I was wondering if you
    could write a litte more on this topic? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

    February 9, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LbsxEncox

    birth control buying viagra sending to australia canadian prescriptions online

    February 9, 2021 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. African Hairstyles

    You actually make it appear so easy along with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would by no means understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am taking a look forward in your next submit, I will attempt to get the hang of it!


    February 9, 2021 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Fitness

    Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much approximately this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you can do with a few p.c. to power the message home a little bit, however instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.


    February 10, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. generic tadalafil united states

    tadalafil 30mg liquid https://tadalisxs.com/ tadalafil vidalista

    February 10, 2021 at 06:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. hydroxychloroquine tablets

    plaquenil sulfate 200 mg https://hydroxychloroquinex.com/ hco medical abbreviation

    February 10, 2021 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. hydro plaquenil

    does erectile dysfunction get better https://plaquenilx.com/ which erectile dysfunction foods work fast

    February 10, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. clozapine

    anti-malaria drug chloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ choroquine

    February 10, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. zithromax online no prescription

    zithromax treatment https://zithromaxes.com/ zithrmax

    February 10, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. NncsZisse

    buying viagra online in montreal safe viagra online grapefruit viagra interaction

    February 10, 2021 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Socjologia

    Most folks will have the same opinion with your post even though its missing a few examples.

    February 10, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. vape blog ro

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I've
    truly loved browsing your blog posts. In any
    case I will be subscribing to your feed and I'm hoping you write again soon!

    February 10, 2021 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Prom Hairstyles

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later in life. I want to encourage you to continue your great posts, have a nice day!


    February 10, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. AhbzEncox

    mack development payday loan payday loans in kirksville mo payday loans midfield alabama

    February 10, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Richard Cordel

    SO MANY BOTS... Would you mind if I sent some extra HUMAN traffic to this page? I'd love to feature your website on my YouTube channel (FREE.) If that sounds good, just shoot me a message! (I'm real... Click here to message me)


    February 11, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Free Samples

    I do love the manner in which you have framed this particular concern plus it does present me a lot of fodder for consideration. Nevertheless, coming from just what I have observed, I just trust as the actual feed-back pack on that people continue to be on point and in no way get started on a soap box regarding some other news du jour. Yet, thank you for this excellent point and while I can not necessarily agree with this in totality, I respect the viewpoint.


    February 11, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. frolep rotrem

    Very great visual appeal on this website , I'd value it 10 10.


    February 11, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. theondecknews

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site. He was once entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

    February 11, 2021 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. http://wearethenationnews.com/

    Ill immediately grasp your rss as I can not to find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you've any? Kindly allow me recognize so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

    February 12, 2021 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. JbnvCrulk

    payday loans direct lender maryland payday loan lender poor credit cashcloud loans australia

    February 12, 2021 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Kbbfseelt

    viagra alternatives india http://kloviagrli.com/ viagra next day delivery usa

    February 13, 2021 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Facebook Services

    I got what you mean ,bookmarked, very decent website .


    February 13, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. zipper pocket insert

    Hmm it seems much like your website ate my first comment
    (it absolutely was super long) therefore i guess I'll
    just sum it the things i wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your site.
    I also am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to everything.

    Are you experiencing any points for newbie blog writers?
    I'd definitely appreciate it.

    Here is my blog zipper pocket insert

    February 14, 2021 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. FqbbEncox

    payday loans servicing nj does citibank offer payday loans cash advance in chico california

    February 14, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. AbcfTeneseelt

    buy viagra 100 mg http://viagriyvik.com/ viagra 100mg prices

    February 14, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. flooring in Pittsburgh, PA

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629


    February 14, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. floor installation cost Pittsburgh, PA

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629


    February 14, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Private Proxies Servers

    I needed to post you this little bit of word to give many thanks again relating to the exceptional secrets you have discussed in this article. It's simply incredibly open-handed with you to deliver unreservedly precisely what many people would've marketed as an electronic book to get some bucks for their own end, especially since you might well have tried it if you ever decided. Those techniques also worked to become a easy way to realize that other people online have the same zeal just as my personal own to find out a good deal more when it comes to this issue. I know there are millions of more fun opportunities ahead for many who looked at your website.


    February 14, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Elite Private Proxies

    I'd constantly want to be update on new blog posts on this site, saved to favorites! .


    February 14, 2021 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Belleville, MI Roofer

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field. R 5 Roofing and Construction, 45041 Ecorse Rd, Belleville, MI 48111, (734) 215-6189


    February 15, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Cincinnati, OH Roofing

    Thank You for your information. R 5 Roofing and Construction, 4422 Appleton St, Cincinnati, OH 45209, (513) 434-6711


    February 15, 2021 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Cincinnati, OH Roofing

    Thank You for your information. R 5 Roofing and Construction, 405 E 151st St, East Chicago, IN 46312, (219) 266-6596


    February 15, 2021 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Roofer East Chicago, IN

    R 5 Roofing and Construction, 405 E 151st St, East Chicago, IN 46312, (219) 266-6596


    February 15, 2021 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Roofer Fishers, IN

    Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles. R 5 Roofing and Construction, 13121 Olio Rd, Fishers, IN 46037, (317) 204-8983


    February 15, 2021 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Norwegia

    Jesli kiedykolwiek zamierzasz cieszyc sie zyciem – teraz jest na to czas – nie jutro, nie za rok. Dzisiaj powinno byc zawsze najwspanialszym dniem. – Thomas Dreier http://www.xmc.pl


    February 15, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. JbbnEncox

    cialis comprare espaГ±a cialis vrai ou faux billiga cialis

    February 15, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. pdf book

    Daisy Jones And The Six Novel James Joyce Ulysses Modernism

    Review my web-site – pdf book

    February 16, 2021 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Leave a Reply to Linda A.


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.