Purpose: Emotional competence refers to the ability to identify, respond to, and manage one’s own and others’ emotions. Emotional competence is critical to many functional outcomes, including making and maintaining friends, academic success, and community integration. There appears to be a link between the development of language and the development of emotional competence in children who use speech. Little information is available about these issues in children who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). In this article, we consider how AAC systems can be designed to support communication about emotions and the development of emotional competence. Method: Because limited research exists on communication about emotions in a context of aided AAC, theory and research from other fields (e.g., psychology, linguistics, child development) is reviewed to identify key features of emotional competence and their possible implications for AAC design and intervention. Results: The reviewed literature indicated that the research and clinical attention to emotional competence in children with disabilities is encouraging. However, the ideas have not been considered specifically in the context of aided AAC. On the basis of the reviewed literature, we offer practical suggestions for system design and AAC use for communication about emotions with children who have significant disabilities. Three key elements of discussing emotions (i.e., emotion name, reason, and solution) are suggested for inclusion in order to provide these children with opportunities for a full range of discussion about emotions. Conclusions: We argue that supporting communication about emotions is as important for children who use AAC as it is for children who are learning speech. This article offers a means to integrate information from other fields for the purpose of enriching AAC supports.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing