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From the Editors

Personalization of Language Intervention for Children and Adults With Complex Communication Needs

Editor(s): Wallace, Sarah E. PhD, Co-Editors; Troia, Gary A. PhD, Co-Editors

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doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000259
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“It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has”—attributed most often to Hippocrates as cited inEgnew (2009)

Personalization: The automatic tailoring of sites and messages to the individuals viewing them so that we can feel that somewhere there's a piece of software that loves us for who we are.

David Weinberger (n.d.)

In this issue of Topics in Language Disorders, Issue Editor Dr. David Beukelman has invited authors to provide information about the importance of personalization in language intervention for people with complex communication needs. Recognizing the value of the person in health care is not a new topic as it has been discussed in multiple writings often in relation to the aforementioned quote attributed to Hippocrates. Personalization in health care is also becoming increasingly sophisticated as advancements occur related to unique molecular and genetic profiles of individuals and responses to medical interventions. Personalization is also a hot topic in the field of technology. As Dr. Weinberger states, adapting technology to individual needs and preferences can help people feel like technology is meeting them where they are. This issue combines these ideas through discussion of personalization in language interventions, some of which involve the integration of technology.

First, Light et al. (2021) provide an illustrative case example of a young girl with complex communication needs who benefited from personalization of early intervention related to literacy and language development. Similarly, in the next article, Babb et al. (2021) describe the development of personalized visual scene display augmentative and alternative communication systems for a young adult with Down syndrome who had complex communication needs. Then, Gormley and Fager (2021) highlight personalization across health care interactions for children and adults with complex communication needs. Next, Thiessen and Brown (2021) describe the status of personalization and personal relevance in interventions for adults with aphasia and put out a call for more research in this area. Finally, in an online-only article, Beukelman et al. (2021) explain the results from a preliminary study that examined human image personalization across different age groups and genders.

In summary, David Beukelman and the authors of this issue describe various ways in which personalization is being considered for people with complex communication needs. These wide-ranging articles provide a foundation for continued consideration of methods of personalization.

—Sarah E. Wallace, PhD
—Gary A. Troia, PhD


Babb S., Jung S., Ousley C., McNaughton D., Light J. (2021). Personalized AAC intervention to increase participation and communication for a young adult with down syndrome. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), 232–248.
Beukelman D., Thiessen A., Fager S. K. (2021). Personalization of visual scene displays: Preliminary investigations of adults with aphasia, typical females across the age span, and young adult males and females. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), E1–E11.
Egnew T. R. (2009). Suffering, meaning, and healing: Challenges of contemporary medicine. The Annals of Family Medicine, 7(2), 170–175.
Gormley J., Fager S. K. (2021). Personalization of patient–provider communication across the life-span. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), 249–268.
Light J., Barwise A., Gardner A. M., Flynn M. (2021). Personalized early AAC intervention to build language and literacy skills: A case study of a 3-year-old with complex communication needs. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), 209–231.
Thiessen A., Brown J. (2021). Personalization of restorative and compensatory treatments for people with aphasia: A review of the evidence. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), 269–281.
Weinberger D. (n.d.). David Weinberger quotes. QuoteHD.
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