Word Finding Difficulties

A word finding difficulty occurs when a person knows and understands a certain term but is unable to retrieve and use it in their speech. In a classroom, for example, a child who struggles with word finding difficulty may have a problem expressing their knowledge, and may appear to be unable to answer questions that require the retrieval of specific facts. Such children’s conversations may be brief or feature word repeats, replacements, empty words, time fillers, and delays. 

Word Finding Difficulties

How Word Finding Difficulty Manifests

A child who has word finding difficulties may have a high knowledge of language but a limited expressive vocabulary; talk around the word or explain it but cannot find it; use non-specific phrases such as thing, there, that one, him, stuff, and so on, as well as overuse generic adjectives such as nice, large, and so on; use words such as um or ah; substitute words having comparable connotations to those they can’t retrieve; employ obvious word-searching actions such as “uh,” “you know,” and so on; have many pauses in their speech and may take a long time to respond to a question; and rarely employ ‘content’ words. 

How We Can Help

If your child has word finding difficulty, our speech pathologists will be able to assess the child and prefer an individualised speech therapy management plan. Our assessment establishes the extent of the specific word retrieval or other underlying difficulties with the child’s language development, the severity of the problem, the age of the child, whether the child is aware of the problem, and any underlying cognitive and communication problems.

Our therapy management plans are individualised and support the child’s efforts in their everyday interactions; they offer online help as needed; they encourage children to search for specific words rather than talk in a roundabout way and skirt around them; they encourage children to think of the sounds of words that are difficult to retrieve; they give the child clues; and they encourage children to describe the object that the words relate to.