Saturday, March 25, 2006

DYSNOMIA... a few words about lost words:

"Dysnomia is a marked difficulty in remembering names or recalling appropriate words in a discussion. This problem may be particularly prominent if the person is asked to answer a question to which he/she must supply an immediate answer. However, when the person speaks spontaneously, without prompting, his/her speech appears perfectly normal." - as listed by the Nalanda Institute web site.

Dysnomia can be frustrating at times. You find yourself grasping desperately for a word... it's right there, on the tip of your tongue. You can picture the word, or object, and you know what it is. But, the connection isn't made from brain to mouth. Ironically, for many of us, typing words is easier than speaking them.

There is nothing more embarrassing than trying to communicate and sounding like a fool. For example, your cat needs shots... you call your vet to make the appointment, and when the secretary questions you, your mind won't allow 'cat' to visualize. You end up saying 'that animal that is opposite of dog', or something equally strange, just to get your point across. You are at the store shopping, and can't find the right aisle, so you stop a sales associate and ask 'where the things are for feet, that cover the foot before it goes in the shoe.'

The best advice I can give to educators and parents is 'be patient'. Trying to force a child with this problem to 'use their words' only makes it worse. Inside, the child is punishing themselves for 'being stupid'... and they are NOT stupid. Encourage them to use other words to describe the missing word. Teach them to have a good sense of humor about it. Be supportive, and encourage them. This is something that can be lived with, and life can be normal. There is no shame in having Dysnomia, and when at an interview or giving a speech, if the word blanks out, smile, chuckle briefly and explain that Dysnomia is a disorder that causes you to be very creative when speaking, since the word you want is too busy playing elsewhere in your brain.