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What is Anomia? A Look at Speech Disorders

Speech or Language Impairments (SLI) is one of the 13 categories for disability recognized by IDEA. There are many reasons why a child may end up with an SLI eligibility for special education including children with autism, aphasia, epilepsy, and many others.

Anomia is a type of aphasia. So what is aphasia? Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others.
Anomia is a form of aphasia and is characterized by difficulty retrieving words; individuals with anomia often use circumlocution (wordy and indirect language) to express an idea when unable to retrieve the desired word or words. I admit I had not heard of anomia until recently. Margaret seems to have suffered from anomia. When she was younger she relied heavily on echolalia (repeating noises, words, or phrases previously heard) to communicate. With heavy, intensive speech therapy Margaret was able to move past echolalia but then I noticed she has another problem. She could not recall the correct word for things, even after she had been told what the word was so her speech was so interesting! She would often speak too fast, too loud, and then her loss for the word she wanted points to anomia. She would call croutons toast bites. She would call bumping her head bumping her attic. She would call beef blood-red meat! She still has a unique way of speaking and how she sees the world.

What causes anomia? Well, the most common cause is stroke followed by traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, brain injection, and dementia. There are three types of anomia.
  • Lexical Anomia: A person with lexical anomia would know how to use an object, and can correctly select the object from a group of objects, but cannot provide the name of the object. Some people with lexical anomia may have issues in naming particular types of objects, such as animals or colors.
  • Phonological Anomia: This is also known as Conductive Aphasia. This can occur when a person knows the word he/she wants to say but selects the wrong sounds when producing the word. Long words will be especially difficult to pronounce.
  • Semantic Anomia: This is a disorder in which the meaning of words becomes lost. Unlike patients with lexical anomia, patients with semantic anomia are unable to select the correct object from a group of objects, even when provided the name of the target object.
SuperDuper Inc. makes wonderful handouts on a variety of topics. They also have a handout on Anomia. It would be a great handout to give someone to help them understand more about your child. If your child suffers from this unique form of Aphasia I hope you found this post helpful!


I hope this post has helped answer some questions on anomia and various types of aphasia. As always, you are welcome to join us on FB in our group, IEP/504 Assistance, for parents of public school students from all over the United States.  We also have a group for all parents and caregivers of special needs children called Special Needs Parenting Advice and Support where we discuss ALL things related to special needs care and Educating Gifted Children is where we discuss topics concerning gifted children and those that are twice exceptional (2e).  Finally, we also have a FB group for more discussion homeschooling children with special needs in our Homeschooling Special (Needs) Kids group.
Michelle Reed-Harris

Michelle Reed-Harris

CEO and Advocate

Michelle Reed-Harris is the mother of six children including surviving quadruplets. Her frustration with doctors and educators led her on a quest to learn about all the facets that touch the quads lives as children with disabilities. In the process, she gained a lot of useful information she could share with others so she started a Facebook group focusing on special education advocacy. The group quickly grew to over 6,000+ members. Recognizing the overwhelming need for assistance, she founded a nonprofit, AESA, allowing her to provide support, advice, and advocacy to parents with children who are outside the (Bell) curve.

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