The Nature and Function of Vocalizations in Atypical Communication


Purpose of Review

A survey of current research including people with disorders in which speech is impaired shows that vocalizations are vastly discussed as a communication strategy, used both in isolation or paired with other aids. The principal goal of this paper is to describe the ways researchers are using the term vocalizations and the meanings and functions attributed to it. We also discuss possible future developments for specific research on unaided communication.

Recent Findings

Although research has not focused specifically on the nature and function of vocalizations, several scholars were able to highlight the crucial role of vocalizations in interactions including people with complex communication needs.


This paper has demonstrated the need for systematizing the discourse on vocalizations both in formal terms and in regard to the object of study itself. Furthermore, it has been shown that vocalizations have a powerful interactional potential, which, if investigated, could be exploited by dedicated training and technology.

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    Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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    Correspondence to Laura Di Ferrante.

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    Laura Di Ferrante and Julie Bouchard declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

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    Di Ferrante, L., Bouchard, J. The Nature and Function of Vocalizations in Atypical Communication. Curr Dev Disord Rep (2020) doi:10.1007/s40474-020-00186-x

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    • Vocalizations
    • Augmentative and alternative communication
    • AAC users
    • Unaided communication
    • Complex communication needs
    • Atypical communication