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  1. Butler, Katharine G. PhD

Article Content

Honoring the past


Portraying the present


Foreshadowing the future


This introductory issue to the 25th anniversary year volume does all three. "Reading comprehension's new look: Influences of theory and technology on practice" is the perfect vehicle for honoring the past, portraying the sociopolitical literacy intervention context of today, and foreshadowing the technologies of the future. The issue is edited by the able University of Colorado interdisciplinary team of Lynn Snyder, Professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Director of the Center for Language and Learning, and Donna Caccamise, Associate Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science.


In an article of the very first issue of Topics in Language Disorders (TLD; edited by Geraldine P. Wallach) 25 years ago, Lynn Snyder addressed the question, "Have we prepared the language disordered child for school?" (Snyder, 1980). Since that time, Snyder has edited three other issues of TLD: 4(1), "Pragmatics in language-disordered children" (Snyder, 1984); 13(4), "Child abuse: Cognitive, linguistic, and developmental considerations" (Snyder & Saywitz, 1993); and 21(2), "Accommodations for college students with learning disabilities" (Snyder & Downey, 2001). In this current issue, Snyder and coeditor Caccamise look again at the challenges of preparing children and adolescents to comprehend the complex textual language of schooling. They have brought together an outstanding team of interdisciplinary and international authors to take a new look at the complex process of reading comprehension and how to assess and promote it in students with and without language disorders. Thus a key question of the past is brought into the present, along with innovative strategies and technologies for the future.


In introducing the first issue of TLD almost exactly 25 years ago, I noted, "There has long been a need among professionals interested in language, its comprehension and expression, for a truly interdisciplinary journal" (Butler, 1980, p. vii). In introducing the second issue of that inaugural volume, I quoted Francis Bacon (1561-1626), who himself tied together language and its comprehension and expression in his Dedication to the Essays of Studies, noting, "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." This issue's coeditors and authors put a 21st-century spin on Bacon's 17th-century observations on the potential of literacy skills to support higher order thinking.


Readers of this issue will find theoretical underpinnings of constructive models of reading comprehension, as well as practical applications involving such tools as oral paraphrasing, extended answers to deep-level questioning, and written summarization. These are updated descriptions of how a person might become more complete or "full" through reading, more "ready" to deal with whatever life sends through talking about complex meanings in one's own words, and more precise, clear, or "exact" through written expression. In this issue, however, hope for the rewards of literacy has been extended to the broader populace, and not just the rare privileged "man" who had access to education in Bacon's world.


With this anniversary issue, I also welcome Nickola Wolf Nelson as my Associate Editor. Nelson is Charles Van Riper Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Western Michigan University, where she also directs the PhD program in Interdisciplinary Health Studies. Nelson is no stranger to TLD. She authored or coauthored articles in issues 1(2) (Nelson, 1981) and 22(2) (Nelson & Van Meter, 2002), and acted as issue editor for 6(4), "Semantic Factors in Language Development and Disorders" (Nelson, 1986). Nelson's dedication to topics in language disorders, both the actual topics and the journal namesake, makes her an apt partner in this ongoing journey of the journal.


Concerning the journey, in that first "From the Editor" column, it was timely to set the context for the journal with a concluding paragraph that seems as pertinent to the current issue as it did to the first:


Topics in Language Disorders is particularly appropriate in light of today's need for higher levels of intervention, both quantitatively and qualitatively. There is much that is known; we hope to report on that here. There is much to know; we hope to discuss the current and future direction of theory and therapy. There is much to hope for; we look forward to exploration of new horizons in language science and its application to intervention strategies. (Butler, 1980, p. viii)


Katharine G. Butler, PhD


Journal Editor, Professor Emerita, Communication Disorders & Science Program, San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif




Butler, K. G. (1980). From the editor. Topics in Language Disorders, 1(1), vii-viii. [Context Link]


Nelson, N. W. (1981). An eclectic model of language intervention for disorders of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. {Topics in Language Disorders, 2(1), 1-23. [Context Link]


Nelson, N. W. (Issue Ed.). (1986). Semantic factors in language development and disorders. Topics in Language Disorders, 6(4). [Context Link]


Nelson, N. W., & Van Meter, A. M. (2002). Assessing curriculum-based reading and writing samples. Topics in Language Disorders, 22(2), 35-59. [Context Link]


Snyder, L. S. (1980). Have we prepared the language-disordered child for school? Topics in Language Disorders, 1(1), 29-45. [Context Link]


Snyder, L. S. (Issue Ed.). (1984). Pragmatics in language-disordered children. Topics in Language Disorders, 4(1). [Context Link]


Snyder, L. E., & Downey, D. (Issue Eds.). (2001). Accommodations for college students with learning disabilities. Topics in Language Disorders, 21(2). [Context Link]


Snyder, L. S., & Saywitz, K. J. (Issue Eds.). (1993). Child abuse: Cognitive, linguistic and developmental considerations. Topics in Language Disorders, 13(4). [Context Link]


Wallach, G. P. (Issue Ed.). (1980). Language disorders and learning disabilities. Topics in Language Disorders, 1(1).