Understanding Word-Retrieval Problems (Dysnomia)


Understanding Word-Retrieval Problems (Dysnomia)

Cathy Moore – ACSI ECD Coordinator
Have you ever found yourself battling to remember a word, a word that you know well, in the middle of a conversation? The frustration is real when that word is on the ‘tip of your tongue’, but you cannot access it! You know that word is in there somewhere, but you can’t find it. It is not that your mouth cannot form it. It is more like your brain won’t release it.
Children with a language disorder may struggle more frequently to find words, which has a profound effect on both communication and academic learning.   A young child might struggle to say a word for different reasons. They could lack prior knowledge or could have difficulty pronouncing a particular word. The child could also be easily distracted and forget their train of thought or they might just be shy. If you suspect that a child has a word-retrieving problem, they need to be assessed by a Speech and Language Therapist. It is very difficult to diagnose a child with a word-retrieval problem. It is often a small part of a much bigger problem. This could impact a child’s social interaction, and their self-esteem.
You can tell if a child might have a word retrieval issue if they:
• Have a poor vocabulary.
• Have difficulty getting to the ‘point’.
• Use non-specific words such as thing, there, that, and you know.
• Explain the word that they cannot find, e.g., the thing that you boil water in.
• Their speech maybe hesitant and contain fillers like, ‘um’, ‘ah’ and pauses. Some children stutter and stammer.
• Use related words instead of the actual word that they wanted to say, e.g., window for door.
• Use too many words when one or two would have done.
• Need extra time to respond to questions.

Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.

As educators, especially in the Preschool, there are many games and activities that we can play to help our children to strengthen their vocabulary.
1.       Categorising Games
·        Find pictures from magazines of different objects. Get the children to group all relating pictures together.
·     Focus on simple category ideas such as food, animals, clothing, toys, and tools.
· Build up to more specific categories: food – fruit and vegetables, hot and cold etc.; clothing – summer and winter; animals – wild and domestic         .

3.       Complete the sentence
·         Provide the child with a sentence and they have to fill in the gap. For example: you write with a …, fire is very.., lemons are….
·         What day comes after/before Monday, etc..
·         A tree is bigger/smaller than a rose, etc.
6.       Book, books, Books!
·         Use picture-only books and get the child to tell the story using the pictures.
·         Reading stories and asking questions as you go.  
2.       Odd one out
·         Using pictures or words to identify the object that does not belong, for example – red, blue, sock, green.

3.       Identifying related objects
·         Using pictures or verbally name four objects. (bed, car, pillow, sock). Ask the child which two objects are most related and why.

5.       What is in the bag?
·         Explaining what they feel in the bag without using the name of the actual object.
·         Guess what I am talking about – you blow them up and put them on your arms when you swim.  
Children generally do not grow out of word retrieval difficulties. They need to be taught strategies of how to deal with them, otherwise the frustration and discouragement they experience can become an obstacle to their progress. Children also need a patient adult who will gently encourage and guide them through their verbal interaction.