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Issue Editor Foreword

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

Editor(s): Beukelman, David R. PhD, Issue Editor

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000257
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Effective communication is essential if people across the age span are to participate in activities related to language learning, education, employment, interaction with social networks, and medical care (Beukelman & Light, 2020). Interventions for children, youth, and adults with complex communication needs are often personalized depending upon the capabilities of the individual, their environment, and their support systems (Light et al., 2019). Modern augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology provides many resources to support personalization of message content and representation. The purpose of this issue is to discuss the personalization of AAC interventions, to illustrate the use of technology to enhance personalization, and to describe the use of such technologies by individuals across the age span, in different environmental situations, and with a range of different language capabilities. In this special issue, authors have been invited to share their knowledge about the personalization of communication supports for children and adults with developmental and acquired language disorders.

In the first article, Light et al. (2021) describe key principles of early language and literacy intervention for young children with complex communication needs and identify how goals, intervention procedures, AAC supports, and materials were personalized to support the language and literacy development of a young girl with global developmental delays and a severe expressive language delay, in addition to neuromotor and visual dysfunctions.

In the second article, Babb et al. (2021) describe a personalized augmentative and alternative intervention for a young adult with Down syndrome in two communication settings: an inclusive post-secondary education program and a community shopping activity. The intervention included the use of a personalized, video visual scene display (VSD) strategy.

In the third article, Gormley and Fager (2021) provide strategies to personalize communication supports for children and adults with language disorders during health care interactions. Strategies are also provided to prepare families and community/school providers to prepare themselves and others for personalized health care communication. The Participation Model (Beukelman & Light, 2020) was used to design interventions related to participation in life activities.

In the final article, Thiessen and Brown (2021) provide a broad overview of how personalization and personal relevance can be achieved across a variety of interventions for adults with aphasia and to discuss the rational for personalized treatment of individuals with aphasia. Finally, the need for future research related to this topic is described.

In an online article, Beukelman et al. (2021) describe the results of three preliminary investigations of the influence of human image personalization related to gender and age for adults with chronic aphasia, as well as young, middle-aged, and elderly adult women without medical conditions across three age groups, and adult males and females without medical conditions. The results support the conclusions when images depicting people of their age and gender, males tend to visually focus on visual scenes containing males more than on images that contain females, whereas females visually focus on scenes containing females more than on scenes that contain males. This article is published online and available on the journal's website.

—David R. Beukelman, PhD
Issue Editor


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., Light J. (2020). Augmentative and alternative communication for children and adults (5th ed.). Brookes Publishing Co.
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.
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.
Light J., Wilkinson K. M., Thiessen A., Beukelman D. R., Fager S. K. (2019). Designing AAC displays for individual with developmental or acquired disabilities: State of the science and future research directions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 35(1), 42–55.
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.
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