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Guest Blog: “It’s on the Tip of My Tongue”- Word Retrieval Difficulties in Children - featured October 29, 2010

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Editor's Note: This article contains LOTS of great Word Finding Resources. We have classified it both as an article and a resource.

“It’s on the Tip of My Tongue”- Word Retrieval Difficulties in Children

By: Deb Tomarakos, SLP-CCC

Reprinted with the express permission of the author as it originally appeared on her blog Speech Gadget, October 4, 2010

I am the absolute worst person when it comes to remembering people’s names. As I grow older, my problem seems to be increasing. It has migrated from forgetting names of people I have met, toward multiple “on the tip of my tongue” moments throughout my days. These moments may crop up when trying to recall an artist or song from the 80’s, or the name of a teacher I had in grade school, or even a professional vocabulary word for a diagnostic assessment.

Word retrieval issues are something we expect to see in ourselves and others as we age. It has been my experience, however, that word retrieval issues are not usually at the top of our thought process when diagnosing children with language and learning issues.

I recently diagnosed a young man in grade school with significant word finding problems. His previous therapists had examined auditory processing skills and short term auditory recall. During my first session with this young man, I administered portions of the Language Processing Test. I could immediately see his word retrieval issues surface. He was struggling to come up with words and definitions. He used a lot of non specific referents (thingy, you know that one thing). He gave answers that were phonetically similar to the correct answer. He used circumlocutions (“It is the thing that goes on your wrist and it is shiny”).

When our first session was over, I described signs of word finding difficulties to his mom and asked her if she sees any of those behaviors in her son. Mom responded with, “Oh my gosh, that is so him. Yes, yes he does that all the time.” She then went on to ask what she could do at home. I was able to give her some photocopied resources and some online resources. I would like to share those same online resources here with all of you.

Caroline Bowen, has a nice article and list of therapy ideas on her web site. You can access it here: Stuck for words? Word Retrieval Activities for Children. has a list of strategies that can be used to facilitate word retrieval. You can find it here: Word Retrieval Strategies. is a web site that targets building vocabulary skills in kindergarten-12th graders through game play. Many of the games are appropriate for enhancing word retrieval skills. The available games target matching vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, homophones and much more. You can find the web site here:

ID=1708&SearchWord=word%20finding]Test of Word Finding[/url] and Word Finding Intervention Program. The web site presents terrific information about diagnosis, treatment, and IEP goals for children with word finding deficits. You can find Diane’s website here: provides free PDF’s of graphic organizers for vocabulary development, including comparing/contrasting, word maps, and word charts. You can find the graphic organizers here:

That’s all from me for today. If you have any other useful resources for word finding, I would love to hear about them.

Featured Guest Blogger: Deb Tomarakos, SLP-CCC

Deb Tomarakos is an ASHA certified and licensed speech-language pathologist. She has been practicing in the field of pediatrics for over 15 years. Her work experience has included both the public schools and out patient pediatrics. Her strongest areas of interests include Childhood Apraxia of Speech, early reading skills, and using technology to increase children's speech/language skills.

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Tags: Tip or Resources of Week Article Word Finding SLP Newsletter 29 October 2010