Word webs for treatment of word-finding difficulty

This article examines a treatment strategy for children with word-finding difficulties, which may or may not co-occur with developmental language disorder. For children with word-finding difficulties, having receptive knowledge of a word, but being unable to retrieve and produce it can be quite frustrating.

Overall, this study of 20 children ages 6–8 years old provides evidence that word webs can be a useful tool for elementary-aged children with word-finding difficulties (looking for more? Try this study, too). Results show significant effects for both treated words and words than children chose as personally relevant to them (hobby interests, things they’re doing in the classroom, etc.). Further research needs done to get a better picture of how the WORD treatment generalizes.

What did they do? Well, good news—the researchers have provided materials and in-depth description of the intervention procedures on a website! See here to download the therapy materials, and here for additional information about the treatment methods. But basically what they did in this study is had the children construct word webs—one phonological (with things like what the word rhymes with, starts with, etc.) and one semantic (with meaning category, linked things, etc.). Research on the WORD program is ongoing; for example, they haven’t yet analyzed whether phonological or semantic word webs (or which components of each) are most beneficial. So, for now, results considered the use of both. Notable components of the intervention include the child’s active participation in generation of the maps plus reflection on what cues most helped them recall words.


Best, W., Hughes, L.M., Masterson, J., Thomas, M., Fedor, A., Roncoli, S., … & Kapikian, A. (2017). Intervention for children with word-finding difficulties: a parallel group randomised control trial. International Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/17549507.2017.1348541.