Many adults can relate to having a word at the “tip of their tongue” but not being able to speak it.
Like adults, kids have trouble with this at times too. But some kids struggle more often than others. It can be very frustrating for them, particularly in stressful situations, or when put on the spot as in suddenly being asked to respond in the classroom, or being faced with that blank paper on which to write. Difficulty finding words can be a symptom of larger difficulties with language organization and can impact oral and written expression.
Sometimes word retrieval difficulties can be a sign of something else. Word finding can be hard for kids with language disorders or those who struggle with reading, such as kids with dyslexia.
Problems with word retrieval can also be a sign that kids are struggling with attention.
Here are some ways you might see kids struggling with word retrieval:
They pause a lot and use “filler words” like uh or um
They talk around the word using long or vague descriptions, like “Where is the thing I like to use in my hair?”
They mispronounce the word, like saying appeal when they mean apple.
They say a word that has a similar meaning but sounds different, like saying chair when they mean couch.
Or say a word that sounds similar but has a different meaning, like saying elephant when they mean elevator.
They may also, say, “I don’t know” or “I forgot” frequently in response to questions.
If you’re noticing signs like these, you may also want to keep an eye on how they are progressing in the classroom with reading, writing, or even math that requires language organization such as with word problems.
Feel free to reach out for a free consultation at any time you have concerns. It is always better to know than to wait.