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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Different reasons for word finding difficulties

Aphasia and apraxia of speech both affect communication skills. In adults, they most commonly result from a stroke, but can also be from brain tumors, head injuries, or other neurological conditions. Each condition can range in severity. It is also common that a single brain injury causes both conditions, because the areas of the brain controlling these skills are so close together, usually on the left side.

Everyone’s experience with aphasia and apraxia of speech is different. A speech-language pathologist can evaluate for both conditions, determine which is primarily affecting communication skills, and individualize treatment goals based on those results. As the person progresses in therapy, the speech therapist may re-assess and shift focus as needed. While the diagnosis is never cookie-cutter, here are some key differences between aphasia and apraxia.


  • Difficulty understanding and/or using language

  • Can affect verbal and written language (i.e., speech, writing/spelling, reading)

  • May result in “tip of the tongue” word-finding instances

  • May result in word substitutions, also called “paraphasias” (e.g., saying “wagon” when the intended word was “car”)

Apraxia of Speech

  • Difficulty planning and programming movements to make speech sounds, not due to weakness of speech muscles

  • May have slowed speech, difficulty with speech rhythm and coordination, and/or inconsistent speech sound substitutions

  • May have obvious groping, visible struggle to move the mouth correctly for speech

  • May have more difficulty with longer, and more complex sequences of sounds

  • Sometimes have more awareness of and frustration with their communication difficulties

If you have been experiencing word finding our speech therapists have experience working with individuals and have more strategies that may help. Please contact our office at 315-810-2423 or with any questions about how we may be able to help you!

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