Tips to Help Your Child with Word Retrieval

Parents may notice that their child may take longer to respond, may have difficulty picking the right word or may use filler words like “um” or “uh” more often than expected. All of these are signs of word finding difficulties, or trouble retrieving a desired word. These children are not having difficulties with vocabulary, they know the words, they simply can’t always access them in a desired moment. Difficulties with word finding or word retrieval is commonly associated with ADHD, reading disorders, and specific language disorders. If left untreated, word finding difficulties can impact a child’s success in school, notably in both oral and written communication.

So my child has word finding difficulties – now what?

A licensed speech-language pathologist can help! Direct therapy can target these difficulties and create strategies to help both at home and at school.  Parents can also work with their children at home by incorporating these tips into their everyday communications:

Wait: your child knows what he wants to say, he may just need a little more time. Allowing your child to work through these difficulties, retrieve the desired word, and participate in a conversation will help not only his self-esteem, but will also encourage strategy use.

Describe it: encourage your child to describe an object or experience if he is struggling. As adults, we all have all said, “It’s on the tip of my tongue” and have used this strategy. Support your child by having him describe the following:

  • Color (it can be brown)
  • Shape (it’s round)
  • Size (it fits in my hand)
  • Feel (soft or crunchy)
  • Parts (might have chocolate chips, raisins, or sprinkles)
  • Where we find it (at the grocery store)
  • Who uses it (we all do)
  • When do we use it (after dinner)
  • What do we do with it (eat it)

These strategies can be helpful for children who are not having word finding difficulties, too! Describing things will encourage language development and growth and will allow children to expand their repertoire!



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