Encouraging Emotional Conversations in Children With Complex Communication Needs: An Observational Case Study

Gabriela A. Rangel-Rodríguez*, Mar Badia, Sílvia Blanch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Children with complex communication needs (CCN) regularly have barriers to express and discuss emotions, and have fewer opportunities to participate in emotional conversations. The study explores and analyzes the changes after a training program focused on offering an interactive home learning environment that encouraged and modeled emotion-related conversations between a parent and a child with CCN within storybook-reading contexts. An observational design (nomothetic/follow-up/multidimensional) was used to explore and analyze the changes in the communicative interaction around emotions between mother-child. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies were used to provide the child access to emotion-related vocabulary. The training program resulted in the mother providing more opportunities to engage her child in emotional conversations, suggesting that when opportunities and resources to talk about emotions were promoted, the child showed more engagement in emotion-related conversations using his AAC system. The mother–child communicative patterns and behavioral relationships observed during the phases are also presented. This case study illustrates the importance of a primary communication partners’ role in facilitating emotional conversations, and the promising efficacy of a training program implemented in a storybook interactive learning environment to promote conversations about emotion-related events while encouraging children with CCN to learn, explore, express, and discuss emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number674755
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • augmentative and alternative communication
  • complex communication needs
  • emotion
  • emotional education
  • family
  • home reading
  • interactive learning environments
  • parent–child interaction


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