Q&A: 7 Year Old Started Mispronouncing Words

CME WebsitesChild Development, Early School Age

blockquote_bgMy seven year old son has recently started mispronouncing words he used to pronounce correctly. He is very bright (is being tested for the gifted program at school) and was a very early reader. Some of the mispronunciation seems to be related to how he is now “seeing” words he is reading, but it still seems strange. By way of history, he is a fraternal twin and was born 5 weeks premature. Although very healthy, he does show some quirky behaviors like rocking himself to sleep at night (since he was a baby) and humming to himself at school during quiet and test times (very recently and not consistently). Is all or any of this related? Should I be concerned if he is doing well in school academically and socially?

It is always wise to question any changes in your child’s skills or behaviors. In regard to word mispronunciation, I would seek consultation and evaluation from your school reading specialist.

Since your son was an early reader, he may have begun his reading skills by recognizing site words. Preschool level books are more concrete and word use is common. While reading to your son, you may have pointed to words as you spoke which could have helped him begin to recognize those words. It maybe he is seeing a site word within word he is reading and saying site word instead of actual word. Example of this would be recognizing “cat” within word “catch”. Seek advise and counsel from your son’s teacher and school reading specialist to determine if he is reading phonetically. Good foundation of reading skills are crucial at this time in his education.

In regard to rocking self to sleep at night and humming during test taking, these are common behaviors used to self-regulate, calm, and/or organize. We use self-regulation in order to attend and /or adapt to demands of our day whether that maybe to find strategies to relax a busy mind for sleep or to rev up to the challenges of testing. If these behaviors do not interfere with daily activities, routines, or cause disruptions in group activities, I would not be concerned. However, if you feel it is causing disruption speak with an Occupational Therapist. Pediatric therapy clinics will be a good resource within your community.