Here are some general word finding strategies to support Teachers and parents with children who have word finding difficulties.
Encourage the child to circumlocute, that is ‘talk round’ the word. E.g. ‘Can you tell me a bit more about it?’ ‘What’s it for?’ ‘Where do you find it?’ Even if the child is unable to find the word, talking about it may give you enough information to guess what they are aiming for.
If a child cannot recall a word, tell them what it is and then check a bit later on if they have remembered. Check again an hour later, the next day and so on, until the word seems fairly stable.
Be explicit about the category you are working with e.g. numbers, buildings, places. Be explicit about changing the category saying something like: ‘We’re finished with Egyptian buildings and now we’re going to think about Egyptian clothes.’
Use any opportunities throughout the school day to use word finding strategies. Describe items for the child or ask the child to name items. This helps to increase their category knowledge and word storage, e.g. ‘The man in our story has a hammer; a hammer is a type of tool. Can you think of any other types of tool?’ ‘This Roman has a shield, can you tell me 3 things about a shield?’
Have a small card (about the size of a 15cm ruler) with the following letters written on it: a b c ch d e f g h i j k l m n o p qu r s sh t u v w x y z.
Make sure the child keeps the card in a place where it will be available if necessary. When the child is struggling for a word encourage them to look at the card and try to identify the first sound in the word. This may help them access the word. The child could decorate the card with something they like such as the logo of their favourite football team-this will make it more likely that they will use the card.
Initial Letter Prompt
Can the child tell you the first letter or sound? If the person listening to the child knows which word they are aiming for, giving the first letter/sound can help the child access the word. Other phonic information might also be helpful e.g. ‘It rhymes with …, it has.. syllables’
If the person listening to the child knows which word they are aiming for they can give some descriptive information e.g. What the target word looks like, what category it is from.
Answer in a Different Way
Consider giving the child an alternative means of answering, for example, if you are asking the child to carry out calculations in their heads you could give the child number cards or a number fan so they can show you the answer rather than saying the answer.
Ask a different question
Give the child a choice of answers.
Keep Trying with word finding strategies
It can take a child several attempts to find the word so encourage them to keep trying. The child may need extra time to answer a question.
Key vocabulary could be noted in the homework book for follow up by support staff or at home.
Further reading around the evidence based practice for word finding strategies can be found here www.speechandlanguagetherapy.org.uk/wordfinding