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Word Finding Disorders

Word finding is a specific expressive language skill that refers to the mental activity of selecting (finding) a known word from memory to express what is wanted to be said.  When there is a word finding disorder, the person is unable to find the particular word wanted in spite of good comprehension of that word.  In other words, the word is known, but the person is unable to express knowledge of the word.  The result is a nonfluent language expression.  A word finding disorder affects all language expressions including speaking, writing, spelling and reading aloud making all personal, social and academic interactions difficult. 

Characteristics of a word finding disorder include word substitutions as if with a slip of the tongue (say worm instead of caterpillar or say bring instead of brought);  lost words as if the word is on the tip of the tongue (um,um what is the word, the thing-a-ma-jig); and word attempts as if with a twist of the tongue (elever instead of elevator, catatapillar instead of caterpillar).   This disorder is noted when saying single words and when speaking in conversation.


Students who have word finding errors may include those with learning disabilities, with reading difficulties, with language difficulties, with fluency difficulties and/or with ADHD.

A word finding disorder is a language processing disorder that is noted at the end of the processing continuum (see the "Language Processing" tab).   The processing continuum begins, on one end, with an auditory message (sounds, single word, short phrase, sentence) and continues to the end with some kind of a spoken response that makes sense of the auditory message.  A dysfluent response may be the result of a word finding disorder.


Academic concerns due to a word finding disorder include asking and responding to questions, reduced ability to participate in class discussions, cooperative groups and classroom conversations. reading aloud (may be mistaken for dyslexia), written expression and spelling.

Only a speech and language therapist who has been trained in the assessment and treatment of word finding disorders is qualified to work with this disorder.  Constance is highly trained in word finding disorders and has the knowledge and experience needed to take the lead in providing the proper intervention program.    She is experienced in training teachers to make accommodations in the classroom and in helping parents handle word finding disorders in the home.

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