Active engagement in interactions is crucial for the development of identity, social competence, and cognitive abilities. For children with severe speech impairment (SSI) who have little or no intelligible speech, active participation in conversations is challenging and can be critical for their social inclusion and participation. The present study investigated the conversational patterns emerging from interactions between children with SSI who use aided communication and typically speaking conversation partners (CPs) and explored whether active participation was different in interactions with different numbers of partners (dyadic versus multi-person interactions). An unusually large multilingual dataset was used (N =85 conversations). This allowed us to systematically investigate discourse analysis measures indicating participation: the distribution of conversational control (initiations versus responses versus recodes) and summoning power (obliges versus comments). The findings suggest that (i) conversations were characterized by asymmetrical conversational patterns with CPs assuming most of the conversational control and (ii) multi-person interactions were noticeably more symmetric compared to dyadic, as children’s active participation in multi-person interactions was significantly increased. Clinical implications and best practice recommendations are discussed.

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