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. Free V bucks



    January 25, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 25, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. my blog

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog so i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find
    things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to
    use a few of your ideas!!

    January 25, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Free Vbucks



    January 25, 2021 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 25, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Free Vbucks



    January 25, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 00:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Hairstyles For Girls

    I have been browsing on-line more than 3 hours these days, yet I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It抯 pretty worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the web will likely be a lot more helpful than ever before.


    January 26, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Freebies for Europe

    fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a great readers' base already!


    January 26, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 411 Vape Center



    January 26, 2021 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Stephenie Krulish

    Best Marketing Services – Cheapest on Market. SMM Supreme is the Top 5 Best Social Media Website in the World. Best Quality-Price Ratio on the market with 714,928 orders until now. – Facebook Fan Page Likes for $4.50/1000 – Instagram Followers for $0.78/1000 – Youtube Views: $1.62/1000 – Twitter followers: $2.10/1000 – Paypal Deposit – Bitcoin Deposit – Fast order processing – 1 Hour Delivery (Click on the link in the profile for more details)


    January 26, 2021 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 26, 2021 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Free Vbucks



    January 26, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Free V bucks



    January 26, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Aurelio Berisha

    What a great post. Thank you for sharing this! I'm going to send it to all my friends.


    January 27, 2021 at 07:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Free Vbucks



    January 27, 2021 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Free Vbucks



    January 27, 2021 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Lowell Boothby

    Social network traffic Facebook likes Twitter Followers Instagram Followers and much more


    January 27, 2021 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Free Vbucks



    January 27, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Anessa B

    What's up?

    I found this article very interesting...please read!

    Do you remember the blockbuster hit film The Matrix that was released in 1999? You may not know this, but it has deep spiritual implications concerning the times we are living in and Bible prophecy.

    It tells a story of how these "agents" are trying to turn us into machines. We are closer then ever before for this to become a reality when they cause us to receive an implantable microchip in our body during a time when physical money will be no more.

    You may have seen on NBC news concerning the implantable RFID microchip that some people are getting put in their hand to make purchases, but did you know this microchip matches perfectly with prophecy in the Bible?

    "He (the false prophet who deceives many by his miracles) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name...

    You also may have heard of the legendary number "666" that people have been speculating for possibly thousands of years on what it actually means. This article shares something I haven't seen before, and I don't think there could be any better explanation for what it means to calculate 666. This is no hoax. Very fascinating stuff!

    ...Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666" (Revelation 13:16-18 NKJV).

    To see all the details showing why the Bible foretold of all these things, check out this article!

    Article: https://biblewoke.com/rfid-mark-of-the-beast-666-revealed

    GOD is sending out His end time warning:

    "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name'" (Revelation 14:9-11).

    In the Islamic religion they have man called the Mahdi who is known as their messiah of whom they are waiting to take the stage. There are many testimonies from people online who believe this man will be Barack Obama who is to be the biblical Antichrist based off dreams they have received. I myself have had strange dreams about him like no other person. So much so that I decided to share this information.

    He came on stage claiming to be a Christian with no affiliation to the Muslim faith...

    "In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith. But there have been times where my faith has been questioned - by people who don't know me - or they've said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing," – Barack Obama

    ...but was later revealed by his own family members that he indeed is a devout Muslim.

    So what's in the name? The meaning of someones name can say a lot about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface...

    "And He (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'" (Luke 10:18).

    In the Hebrew language we can uncover the meaning behind the name Barack Obama.

    Barack, also transliterated as Baraq, in Hebrew is: lightning

    baraq – Biblical definition:

    From Strongs H1299; lightning; by analogy a gleam; concretely a flashing sword: – bright, glitter (-ing, sword), lightning. (Strongs Hebrew word H1300 baraq baw-rawk')

    Barak 'O'bamah, The use of bamah is used to refer to the "heights" of Heaven.

    bamah – Biblical definition:

    From an unused root (meaning to be high); an elevation: – height, high place, wave. (Strongs Hebrew word H1116 bamah baw-maw')

    The day following the election of Barack Obama (11/04/08), the winning pick 3 lotto numbers in Illinois (Obama's home state) for 11/5/08 were 666.

    Obama was a U.S. senator for Illinois, and his zip code was 60606.

    Seek Jesus while He may be found...repent, confess and forsake your sins and trust in the savior! Jesus says we must be born again by His Holy Spirit to enter the kingdom of God...God bless!


    January 27, 2021 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Free V bucks



    January 27, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Free Vbucks Generator



    January 27, 2021 at 17:19 | 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 Shaun


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.