this section six different groups of students who may have Word Finding
difficulties are identified and described:
- Students who have specific learning disabilities (LD)
- Students who have reading difficulties
- Students who have specific language difficulties (SLI)
- Students who have fluency difficulties
- Students who have known brain pathology
- Students who have attention difficulties and/or are hyperactive
about students who are affected by Word Finding difficulties are also
Students Who Have Specific Learning Disabilities (LD)
Children with learning disabilities often have Word Finding difficulties,
according to both research (German, 1979, 1984; Lewis & Kass, 1982)
and clinical reports (Johnson & Myklebust, 1967). German
(1998) studied 146 fourth and fifth-grade students with learning disabilities.
Her studies showed that 72 students (49.4 percent) had either or both
inaccurate and slow retrieval on the Test of Word Finding (TWF). Behavioral
descriptions of students with learning disabilities typically mention
the presence of Word Finding problems. Lerner (2000) observed that many
students with learning disabilities retrieve words slowly, and Word
Finding problems can be lifelong sources of difficulty in reading, learning,
and expressive language. Smith (1991) states that students with learning
disabilities and Word Finding difficulties have difficulty retrieving
object names, numbers, and letter names or sounds of letters in school.
Children make these kinds of errors even though they have full knowledge
of the letter names and sounds they are trying to recall.
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Who Have Reading Difficulties
investigators have studied the Word Finding skills of students with reading
difficulties (Bowers & Swanson, 1991; Denckla & Rudel, 1967a,
1976b; McBride-Chang & Franklin, 1996; Wimmer, 1993). German and Newman (2005; 2007) demonstrated that learners with Word Finding difficulties are able to successfully identify, in silent reading recognition tasks, words missed in oral reading. This finding suggests that students with Word Finding difficulties may be able decode silently, words missed during oral reading. The following research findings show the relationship between Word Finding
difficulties and reading difficulties:
Lexical retrieval may be important in understanding how students
respond to instruction in phonemic awareness (Torgesen, Wagner &
Rashotte, 1994; and Blachman, 1994).
A "double deficit subtype" exists among students with
reading disorders in which naming-speed deficits and phonological
deficits co-occur (Wolf & Bowers, 1997).
Phonological retrieval deficits co-occur with reading disorders
(Catts & Kamhi, 1999).
Poor readers display subtle oral language difficulties of which
a Word Finding difficulty is one symptom (Murphy, Pollatsek &
The use of reading strategies by adolescents with dyslexia and typical
matched readers suggest that dyslexic readers have impaired access
to words in the lexicon.
Students with dyslexia and poor readers are slow and inaccurate
namers on tests of rapid automatic naming (Catts, 1989; Katz, 1986;
Snowling, Wagtendonk & Stafford, 1988; Wagner, Torgeson &
Rashotte, 1994; Wolf, 1980, 1986, 1991).
Learner's with Word Finding difficulties often produce Word Finding based oral reading errors (German and Newman, 2005; Johnson and Myklebust, 1967).
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Students Who Have Specific Language Difficulties (SLI)
Word finding problems have also been identified in children with specific
language difficulties (SLI) (Fried-Oken, 1984; Katz, Curtis & Tallal,
1992; Lahey & Edwards, 1996; 1999; Leonard, Nippold, Kail, Hale, 1983;
Rubin & Liberman, 1983; Schwartz & Solot, 1980). These children
have Word Finding difficulties in either or both single word and discourse
retrieval contexts (McGregor & Leonard, 1995). In single word retrieval
contexts, students with SLI:
In discourse contexts, these students:
- respond inaccurately or slowly (Lahey & Edwards, 1996);
- manifest unique substitution responses that are either semantic
or phonemic in nature (Lahey & Edwards, 1999); and
- manifest error types related to their pattern of language deficit
(Lahey & Edwards, 1999).
Further variation in using grammatical rules has been found in children
with SLI (Bishop, 1994; Leonard, Bortolini, Caselli, McGregor, & Sabbadini,1992;
Masterson & Kamhi, 1992; Panagos & Prelock,1982; Scott, 1994).
The source of these grammatical errors might be either storage or retrieval
difficulties. However, because variability in using correct verbal forms
may suggest underlying competence for those forms (Bishop, 1994), authors
have speculated that some students who manifest morphosyntactic difficulties
may have underlying access or retrieval difficulties (Connell & Stone,
1992; Paul,1992; Rice & Bode, 1993; Scott,1994).
- produce narratives of shorter length; or
- manifest unique Word Finding behaviors, or both (German, 1987; German
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Students Who Have Fluency Difficulties
The relationship between Word Finding skills and fluency difficulties,
particularly stuttering, has been examined. In general, research and clinical
reports have reported contrasting results suggesting that some, but not
all, children who have fluency difficulties may have weak Word Finding
skills (Boysen & Cullinan, 1971; P. Johnson, 1991; MacDonald &
Beale, 1989; Moore, Craven & Farber, 1982; Telser, 1971; Telser &
Rutherford, 1970; Weuffen, 1961). It appears that this is an area where
more assessment and observation is needed to help clarify the relationship
between Word Finding skills and fluency difficulties.
Who Have Known Brain Pathology
Word Finding difficulties have been widely reported among children with
both congenital and acquired conditions (Aram, 1993; Aram, Ekelman and
Whitaker, 1987; Campbell & Dollaghan, 1990; Dennis 1992; Dennis, Hendrick,
Hoffman, and Humphreys, 1987). For example:
Dennis (1992) reported that the Word Finding skills of children with
hydrocephalus arising from aberrant brain development in the first year
of life are affected, although not equally impaired. Children and adolescents with acquired traumatic head injury have been
reported to show impairment in object description and naming fluency tests
(Ewing-Cobbs, Fletcher, Landry, & Levin, 1985). Dennis (1992) reports that even mild injuries may produce Word Finding
difficulties serious enough to affect academic learning. That is, several
years after the trauma, those students with poor discourse skills manifested
Word Finding difficulties in conversational discourse due to their difficulties
in accessing information from long term memory).
Dennis (1980) also observed profound Word Finding difficulties in single
word and discourse contexts in a child who had a sustained stroke.
Students Who Have Attention Difficulties and/or are Hyperactive
Riccio and Hynd (1993) report that there is a high incidence of language
difficulties in children referred to clinics as a result of behavioral
difficulties. Conversely, the most frequent psychiatric disorder associated
with speech and language difficulties has been reported to be attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) (Love & Thompson, 1988). Although authors have hypothesized
as to the connection between these language and behavioral difficulties,
their relationship is still unclear (Baker and Cantwell, 1987). The most
common language problems reported in students with ADHD are weaknesses
in auditory comprehension and language processing (Baker & Cantwell,1990),
but little is reported as to their Word Finding skills. It appears that
this is also an area where more assessment is needed in the area of Word
Finding to help clarify the nature of these students' language
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