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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Say words backwards

 LBoat - Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:27 pm

I am a 43 year old female. In elementary school teachers would always tell me to slow down and not talk so fast. In my teen years, family would smile and say "We know what you mean" and try to tell me I said things backwards which I never believed. In my early twenties, I heard myself and realized they were telling the truth. I always associated this with trying to slow down my speech since it never happened until I began talking slower. As I've gotten older, I've tried to control it but it seems to happen more frequently. It's silly things like "put your coat in your arms, instead of arms in your coat" or a compound word like doorknob comes out knobdoor. The worst is vacuum cleaner and lawnmower. While I know the difference between the two, if I don't stop (really stop) and think about it first, I will call them by the wrong name every time. I made great grades in school, was in the gifted program and even Beta Clubs, but I can't stop this word reversal and I'm always worried about making an idiot comment in my professional life. Any ideas?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:19 am

User avatar Your symptoms sound a little like a condition known as apraxia or dyspraxia. This is essentially a condition where one has difficulty saying words. It can range from very mild to very severe.

There are two main types: acquired and developmental. Acquired can develop really at any point. Developmental apraxia is present from birth and symptoms often begin once the child begins speaking.

You may wish to see a speech pathologist for an evaluation. This specialist will be able to help you identify the issue that is causing your difficulty as well as possibly give you some tips/exercises to help you overcome your language difficulties.

Of note, it is also possible that you have a normal variation of speech patterns. The speech pathologist can help determine this as well.

Best wishes.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:31 am

User avatar Hello LBoat - I'll bet you're the first one to notice when you commit one of these inversions. Just as the brain sometimes has a glitch that causes this sort of problem (there are any number of speech disorders, none of which come to mind when considering your particluar complaint), the brain also possesses the facility for filling in out-of-order speech patterns, fill in tiny gaps in music and otherwise make sense of things that aren't quite as intended. While the most famous similar instance was the Episocopalian Minister William Archibald Spooner, who routinely inverted the first letters of two words in a phrase, you are simply inverting whole words, which is less complex. Sometimes it is related to an anxiety issue tied to a specific circumstance (you mention having made a conscious effort to slow down your speech, which may have become an "order" you've given yourself which conflicts with your natural tendency to speak a little more rapidly than average. Sometimes it is just a tiny synaptic misfire. If it should ever become truly burdensome then a visit to a neurologist might be in order. Since it appears to be the only manefestation of anything resembling a speech disorder I'm betting it is just part of your personal uniqueness.
 LBoat - Sun Mar 25, 2007 8:29 pm

Whew, that didn't hurt a bit!! Thanks to both of you for taking the time to respond.

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