HELP for Word-Finding

by Andrea M. Lazzari and Patricia M. Peters.

Linguisystems, Inc. 3100 4th Ave. Moline, IL 61244-9700 United States

Phone: 800-776-4332 (Toll free in the United States)

Purchase Price: US$43.95

Web site:

HELP for Word-Finding is a 179-page workhorse packed with simple and well-designed exercises, recommended by the publisher for ages 6 through adult. I have used my copy extensively for developing vocabulary and word-finding skills with both children and adults.

Each page focuses on a particular skill and theme, and progresses from easier to more challenging items. There are typically 24 items on a page, and in some sections the task continues to the next page for a total of 48 items; in these cases, the difficulty continues to increase across the two pages. When working with younger or more impaired individuals, a therapist can begin with the first item and stop when the person misses several in a row. Conversely, when working with a more advanced individual, it may work to start at the halfway point and progress to the more challenging items toward the end. When working with children who tend to become frustrated or give up when they don't know the answer, I sometimes start toward the beginning and get them warmed up with one or two easy items, then jump to the end and work backwards so that the items get easier as we go.

HELP for Word-Finding consists of the following sections:

Automatic Associations. This section begins with familiar rhymes, sayings, book titles, song lyrics, etc. with words missing for the person to fill in, e.g., Mary had a little ___. Later pages focus on commonly associated foods (Peanut butter and ___), people and objects (Farmer and ___, Pilot and ___), as well as verbs, nouns, name brands, common abbreviations, number associations (What number is associated with twins?), geography, similes, idioms, and proverbs.

Themes. In this section, each page focuses on a theme such as Home, Meals, Clothing, Toys and Games, School, and so on. The stimulus items are definitions or descriptions of things having to do with that theme (e.g., for Transportation, one of the items is a thing you pedal that has two wheels). The person supplies the name of the thing or concept being described.

Definitions. This section works similarly to the previous one, but is arranged according to semantic properties, including objects, actions, descriptors, multiple meaning words, antonyms, and synonyms.

Answering Questions. Here the focus is on using and responding to "WH Questions"--that is, questions involving who, what, where, when, how, why, and which. For each of these question words, there are pages that provide word banks (multiple choice) and others that are open-ended.

Parts of Speech. This section is structured similarly to the one on questions, with activities involving word banks and fill-in-the-blanks for nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases.

Using Context. This section includes activities that provide a context, such as a short story or situation, and the task is to fill in the correct word based on the information provided, e.g.: The cheerleaders were jumping and laughing. The football players were carrying their coach off the field on their shoulders. The football team must have __________ the game.

Word-Finding Activities. Unlike the rest of the volume, this section does not have specific stimulus items, but instead features 16 suggestions of word-finding activities that can be done either in a therapy session or at home. I frequently print out this session for parents of children I work with; because of copyright laws, however, I cannot post these activities on my web site.

At the end is an "answer key" for those moments when you're not sure what the answer should be, and there are those moments. In most cases, however, you'll be able to tell what the answer is without referring to the key, and you should keep a sense of flexibility in approaching the tasks and the answers. Often a child or adult I'm working with will give an answer that is not what I had in mind, but still works.

A very nice feature of almost all Linguisystems books, including this one, is that they come with a PDF copy on CD-ROM. This way, you can print out anything from a single page to the entire book. This gives the flexibility to treat the activities as worksheets to be completed with pen or pencil, or to write down the person's answers verbatim, or to keep track of correct and incorrect answers, dates completed, etc. In my case, I have copied the CD-ROM onto my laptop's hard disk and carry it with me from building to building. Sometimes I print out a copy of the activity I'm working on; sometimes I bring up an activity on screen and save paper. I also print out copies of the tasks to send with my students to do as home practice activities (and by the way, in case you are wondering, all of these are allowed by the publisher and are not copyright violations).

HELP for Word-Finding is an important part of my therapy supply cabinet and gets heavy use. It has been worth every penny I paid for it.

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