Historically, social communication approaches to intervention for children with developmental language disorders (DLD) have been limited. However, several recent studies have shown that these interventions can produce positive changes in children with DLD. One weakness that children with DLD demonstrate is the production of words to express emotion. This thesis evaluates the effectiveness of a story-based social communication intervention to increase the production of emotion words in three elementary school-age children diagnosed with DLD. Data were collected and analyzed in pre-treatment baseline sessions, throughout the intervention, and in post-treatment follow-up data for the seven target emotion word categories of happiness, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, and contempt. The specific targeted emotion word categories were determined based on individual participants limited proficiency during baseline sessions. Thus, the emotions targeted were unique to each child. Intervention consisted of 40 intervention sessions using a combination of storybook therapeutic strategies (e.g., story enactment, story sharing, and modeling by the clinician to help increase the child's emotion understanding) as well as emotion recognition and emotion inferencing tasks. Each participants data were analyzed and presented in figures. The percentage of non-overlapping data (PND) was used in data analysis, quantifying how successful the intervention was for each of the targeted emotions. While the target emotion word categories varied between participants, all of the children showed improvement in the targeted emotions. While the intervention was more effective for some children than others, all increased in their ability to use the target emotion words more accurately as a result of participating in intervention.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders

Date Submitted


Document Type





developmental language disorder, DLD, social communication, social communication intervention, emotion understanding, emotion words, vocabulary