Dysnomia and Anomia

A learning disability that is a virtual unknown is Dysnomia. Dysnomia is a word finding problem. People with Dysnomia often have an auditory memory problem. They are than not able to remember what they hear. Some have a problem with remembering what they see or experience. Dysnomia is a difficulty or inability to retrieve the correct word from memory when it is needed. Dysnomia can affect speech skills, writing abilities, or both. Normal individuals will occasionally suffer problems recalling words. This only becomes a medical condition when the recall problems interfere with daily life. Doctors use neuropsychological tests to diagnose the condition. Dysnomia can develop because of brain trauma or can be a learning disability. Dysnomia from strokes or head injuries will frequently reduce or disappear with time. The learning disability, however, cannot be cured. Patients can improve their life skills by using coping strategies. Anomia for simplicity is a more severe case of Dysnomia where the person has severe problems with recalling words or names.

People with Dysnomia are likely to replace even the simplest words with thing. For example, “Where is the thing that was just on the thing?” People with Dysnomia are also likely to ask you to repeat what you have said so they have extra time to process it and to produce an answer or they use pauses when talking. These pauses are particularly problematic for people in the United States as pauses are uncommon when speaking. In Japan by contrast this would likely be perceived as normal. Additionally, Children sometimes use another word with a close meaning like fork for spoon or cat for dog.

Speaking is normal an associative activity that constantly flows. However, for Dysnomics it is a cognitive task requiring a lot of resource. It takes all their attention and effort and therefore they can’t do talking and something else at the same time. The phrase “you can’t walk and chew bubble-gum” comes to mind. However, there is hope for people with this learning disability. Doctors tend to recommend different treatments based on the cause of the Dysnomia. Dysnomia caused by a brain trauma, including injury or stroke, is frequently treated by a speech pathologist using exercises to improve recall. For brain trauma cases, doctors recommend that, language therapy should begin as soon as possible and be tailored to the individual needs of the patient. Treatment is more difficult when Dysnomia is caused by developmental issues. Since the area of the brain dealing with word recall has not fully developed, there is currently no way to cause the development or speed its process. In children with Dysnomia, the condition may lessen or disappear as the child grows.

For people with Dysnomia mastering the art of Circumlocution becomes extremely important. Circumlocution is the act of describing many features of an object, event, or action without saying the exact word for the object, event, or action. When at a loss for an intended word they will often describe the word to get their message across which will commonly cue the actual word they are looking for. For example, if an individual with word finding difficulty couldn’t think of the word bird, they might say: “It’s the thing that flies. You know, they live in nests and lay eggs; they sing a lot, what is that thing called?” Circumlocution can be useful in that it may help us think of the missing word. It also helps keep the flow of conversation going. As mentioned before, anytime we stop a conversation to think of a word, the silent space can interfere with the focus and direction of your conversation.

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