Friday, May 13, 2016

Word-finding intervention for children with Specific Language Impairment: A multiple single-case study

Bragard, A., Schelstraete, M., Snyers, P., James, D. G. H. (2012). Word-finding intervention for children with Specific Language Impairment: A multiple single-case study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43, 222–234.

Children with specific language impairment (SLI) often have trouble retrieving words from their mental dictionaries. These word-finding difficulties (WFDs) may be due to inadequate semantic knowledge, in which case intervention should focus on improving word knowledge both by developing more complete definitions and by increasing knowledge of connections between meanings such as antonyms and synonyms. A second possible reason for WFDs is a weak representation of the sounds in the words, or phonology, in which case intervention should focus on increasing awareness of the sounds in words. In this study, the authors examined the relative effectiveness of these two approaches in remediating WFDs in four children with SLI.

Intervention was offered in two phases with three sessions each. In the first phase, children developed semantic knowledge by explaining associations between two given pictures. Phonological intervention in phase one focused on separating the sounds in the names of the pictures. In phase two of semantic intervention, children gave definitions for words and in the phonological intervention, children recalled the first sound in the name of a given object. Separate word lists were used for semantic and phonological interventions to compare the effectiveness of the interventions.

Testing on picture naming tasks showed one child improved after the phonological intervention only; the second child benefited from the semantic intervention only; the third child saw gains from both interventions; but the fourth did not show substantial improvements after either intervention. All of these increases in naming accuracy were maintained six months after the intervention. These results are promising, although no children showed improvements on untrained words at any point in the study.

The authors suggest that the differential responses to intervention were due to the type of WFD in the children, however little information was provided regarding the classification of the children’s word-finding deficits. Bragard et al. also suggest that the lack of generalization highlights the necessity of targeting carefully selected words to maximize benefits from the intervention.

Blogger: Laura Pauls; Laura is a speech language patholigist who is currently completing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Archibald

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