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  1. Butler, Katharine G. PhD, Editor
  2. Nelson, Nickola Wolf PhD, Associate Editor

Article Content

Honoring the past Portraying the present Foreshadowing the future


Twenty-five years ago, in the autumn of 1980, when the first readers opened the first issue of Topics in Language Disorders (TLD), they found these words of purpose and dedication:


There has long been a need among professionals interested in language, its comprehension and expression, for a truly interdisciplinary journal. It is within the general fields of language acquisition, development, and disorders (both spoken and read) that speech-language pathologists, psycholinguists, pediatricians and neurologists, remedial reading and learning disability specialists, as well as other professionals in medicine and education tend to confer [horizontal ellipsis]


Topics in Language Disorders (TLD) is dedicated to increasing our shared knowledge. But it is more than knowledge we seek: it is the melding of rigorous scientific endeavors with clinical and educational application. - (Butler, 1980, p. vii)


For the past 25 years, issue editors, authors, reviewers, editorial board members, and production staff, first at Aspen Publishing, and now at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, have collaborated to address these needs and achieve this purpose. This special double anniversary issue is a wonderful example of how the journal has addressed its goal of exploring the relationships between spoken and written language development and disorders, and to shed interdisciplinary light on the scientific evidence for practical decision making.


Geraldine P. Wallach is issue editor for Part 1, reprising the role she played in the inaugural issue and bringing her usual wit and clear thinking to meld the past with the present and future. For this anniversary look backward and forward, Wallach invited authors who have been frequent contributors to TLD to revisit two of the original articles each, "clarifying the application of theory to practice in the treatment, rehabilitation, and education of language disordered individuals" (Butler, 1980, p. vii). Wallach has been a leader herself over the past 25 years, extending understanding of the nature of language, urging clinicians to avoid being distracted by tangential and irrelevant factors and to focus consistently on what really matters---language as communication in both spoken and written forms. Wallach collaborated with Joel Stark to write the first article of the first issue, and she communicated with him as she planned the current celebratory issue. She ends Part 1 with an interview of Dr. Sylvia Richardson, who brings her own interdisciplinary perspectives to questions about the relationships of language disorder and dyslexia, along with implications for helping all children learn to read and write.


Martin Fujiki and Bonnie Brinton assumed the issue editor role for Part 2. Their own work has been exemplary in bringing research to practice, particularly in the area of social skills development. The case studies they invited for the anniversary issue illustrate many of the principles laid out in the original "From the Editor" column. The case examples convey themes associated with the heterogeneity of language disorders that transcend labels, adjustments in treatment targets and methods as language contexts and curricular demands change, capitalizing on relative strengths in written language to support spoken communication and social interaction, parental roles in decision making and intervention, and critical questions about the role of language ability in determining quality of life. Case studies present particular challenges and risks for clinician-researchers. Real-life stories of change come complete with flaws and questions of what could be done differently. As such, they are particularly powerful learning tools, melding theory and practice in a manner that has been the hallmark of TLD.


As editor, what stands out most in my memory are the people who joined me in this adventure, many unknown to the casual reader, starting with Curt, my first editorial director, and including such famous behind-the-scenes reviewers as Roger Brown, a member of the original editorial board. Now, along with Nicki, my associate editor, I want to thank all of you who have written for, reviewed, edited, advised, published, and read TLD over the past 25 years. These topical issues have prepared us all well to look toward the future.


Katharine G. Butler, PhD, Editor


Nickola Wolf Nelson, PhD, Associate Editor




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