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Int J Lang Commun Disord. 1998 Oct-Dec;33(4):445-54.

Children with word-finding difficulties--prevalence, presentation and naming problems.

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  • 1School of Education, Politics and Social Science, South Bank University, London, UK.


There is increasing interest from therapists and researchers in children's word-finding difficulties (WFDs). Word finding difficulties are usually considered to be present when children are able to identify a referent from a set of exemplars, but have difficulty producing the target word when shown a picture or in conversation. Word finding difficulties are associated with a number of conversational forms such as delays in the production of a word, the use of long pauses within phrases, frequent use of place holders ('uh', 'um', etc.) and the use of circumlocutions. Although interest is being shown in WFDs, most of the data come from relatively small samples with the result that one knows little about the prevalence of the condition, what circumstances exacerbate the condition, the occurrence of associated difficulties and the types of therapy that are employed. To obtain this information a survey was carried out in the South-East of England of practitioners working with children who have language difficulties. Twenty-three per cent of children in language support services were identified as having WFDs. Most respondents used a mixture of formal and informal assessments. It was reported that WFDs were associated with difficulties in grammatical production, word meaning and grammatical comprehension. WFDs in addition were more likely to occur in situations with high processing demands. A variety of intervention strategies were identified. These findings are discussed in relation to current practice and the authors understanding of the condition.

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