What is Rapid Word Naming?
Children with learning disabilities often have word finding difficulties, according to both research from thirty years ago (German, 1979, 1984; Lewis & Kass, 1982) and more 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.
Who are these students? Groups of students who may have word finding difficulties are:
- Students who have specific learning disabilities (LD)
- Students who have reading difficulties
- Students who have specific language difficulties (SLI)
- Students who have fluency difficulties (stuttering)
- Students who have known brain pathology
Many investigators have studied the relationship of word finding skills in students with reading difficulties (Bowers & Swanson, 1991; Denckla & Rudel, 1967a, 1976b; McBride-Chang & Franklin, 1996; Wimmer, 1993).
Basically what they find 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 & Well, 1998).
- 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).
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:
- Respond inaccurately or slowly (Lahey & Edwards, 1996)
- Manifest unique substitution responses that are either semantic or phonemic in nature (Lahey & Edwards, 1999)
- Manifest error types related to their pattern of language deficit (Lahey & Edwards, 1999).
In discourse contexts, these students:
- Produce narratives of shorter length.
- Manifest unique word finding behaviors, or both (German, 1987; German & Simon,1991).
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).
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.
Students 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 (ADHD)
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 student’s language difficulties.