weekly lists to help you understand aphasia

The NAA has been providing helpful resources to people with aphasia and caregivers for 35 years. Whether it’s connecting you to speech therapy in your area through our affiliate directory or hosting online events so you can meet other people with aphasia, the NAA has had your back. To celebrate, we’ve pulled together a few lists of 35 tips to mark our 35 years.

This list gives you 35 word finding tips. Try them all, again and again.

  1. When you remember a word you were struggling to find, write it down! Keep a word list of these words because they tend to come up again and again.
  2. Make a list of your most common terms and look up a synonym for each one so you can vary your speech.
  3. Choose another word that means the same thing, even if it is one you just used earlier in the sentence. 
  4. Pause before you speak and try to get the words together in your mind.
  5. Circumlocution: say all the words around the word. It will help you remember, and it allows the listener to fill in the mental blanks.
  6. Use Siri to do a quick word web search on the go.
  7. Use gestures to get the word across so the other person can help supply it by watching your movement.
  8. Type up the words so you have a neat, spellchecked list.
  9. Read the thesaurus — it will help you remember words you didn’t even realize that you have forgotten.
  10. Practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening every day.
  11. Describe the object or action so the other person can supply the word.
  12. Take a deep breath. Stress makes it harder to recall words and speak.
  13. Draw a picture to convey the object or situation.
  14. Give examples if you can’t remember a word.
  15. Leave extra time to say what you need to say.
  16. Ask the other person questions, which may help you remember the word you need.
  17. Use an app to keep track of the words you need to remember.
  18. Use a small notebook to write down new words you learn and review the pages daily.
  19. Close your eyes and try to picture the word or the object you’re trying to name.
  20. Use the dictation feature on your mobile device because it will often autocorrect to the right word if you’re close.
  21. Skip the word. Most people will be able to figure out the missing word from context clues.
  22. Google something close to the word and scan all of the entry results for your missing word.
  23. Speak and then type or write down a word so you can remember it in different mediums (hearing it, seeing it, etc)
  24. Carry an index card with key phrases you commonly need during your day.
  25. Give yourself extra time by letting the person know you’re thinking or that you’ll get back to them in a moment.
  26. Repeat what has already been said to jog your memory.
  27. Sing it if you can’t say it.
  28. Close your eyes and hold up your hand to indicate you’re thinking, even if it’s just to grab a pause and slow down the conversation.
  29. Read books and write down words you encounter that you don’t remember. Words have a funny way of coming back up again right after you hear them or see them somewhere else.
  30. Mentally scan the alphabet to try to remember the first letter.
  31. Speak slower. You won’t need to pause if you give your mind time to catch up.
  32. Spell the word if you can see it in your mind but can’t get it out of your mouth.
  33. Use a communication board.
  34. Let the other person know you’re struggling and need help remembering the word.
  35. Work backward toward the word, trying to remember where you first learned it.