I recently began therapy with a new word finding client. His lack of understanding about what “word finding” or “word retrieval” is was a good reminder to go back to the basics and explain why he is in language therapy. This led me back to my very first blog post in 2014. I have edited it and reprinted below:
So where do I start when I have a new speech therapy client and have identified word finding as a goal area? So often, we jump straight into expressive language activities. I feel very strongly, however, that we first need to get our young friend on board: if he is to be successful in therapy, he needs to be aware of why he is here and why it will benefit him.
When we begin articulation therapy, we first make sure a child can discriminate the “old” sound from the “new” sound, right? Shouldn’t we also be sure a child can recognize what a “word finding problem” is? Shouldn’t he be able to “discriminate” when he is stuck on a target word and when he is using the correct vocabulary word?
Step # 1 is AWARENESS. A child in language therapy needs to be aware that there is such a thing as a “word finding problem.” EVERYONE has word finding difficulties at some point in time….Mom, Dad , teachers, coaches, smart kids, cool kids. But if these difficulties occur too often, they can really interfere with our trying to express ourselves.
No child wants to be confronted with his difficulties when he first meets the new SLP. We have to strike the delicate balance between helping him become aware of his challenges and making him feel like a failure. So I start by helping him listen for the word finding difficulties others have.
Look at the media! TV and radio commercials are full of examples. His “speech homework” can be to find an example of a character in a favorite show stymied by getting stuck on the word he needs. At home, if he can catch his parent calling him a sibling’s name, he realizes that we are all “word finders.” Likewise, what about the teacher who says, “After math, we will go to music…I mean art”?
I have created a number of dialogs that I use to help my WF students become more aware of the types of word finding problems they may experience. You can write them yourself. The more specific they are to an individual child, the more meaningful they are. But I have provided a few for you to get started on my “resources” page. Have the kids read it themselves, or read it to them and have them push a button to identify a WF “mistake.”
What ideas have you used to create AWARENESS of word finding challenges? Please share!