Promoting emotional literacy in children with additional needs – a free resource

This blog is written by Dr Ro Rossiter, Consultant Clinical Psychologist. It aims to introduce PELI CAN (Promoting Emotional Literacy in Children With Additional Needs). This is a free web-based framework with story guidance and resources for foster carers to use at home.    

PELI CAN focuses on supporting children and young people, aged four-18, with additional learning needs, special educational needs and disability and learning disabilities to develop emotional literacy skills. These skills include noticing and coping with feelings, problem-solving and relaxation with the support of staff, parents, carers and others. PELI CAN is built from practice-based evidence, evidence- based practice, collaboration and feedback, literature reviews, networking, community of practice and co-production. 

The story behind the framework is a simple one – Peli is scared to fly and their friend Tou helps by using the 4 ‘I CAN’s’. The story illustrates the framework and the guidance provides information on the process and content. Through the story, Peli changes from Peli ‘can’t’ to Peli ‘can.’ 

The four I CAN’s are: 

  1. I CAN feel – develops skills in noticing, naming and becoming familiar with feelings, identifying body signs for these feelings and understanding how they may be connected to situations and behaviours.   
  2. I CAN relax – helps notice body signs and situations that induce worry or anger, and different relaxations that can be used to calm the body and mind.   
  3. I CAN think – helps differentiate thoughts and feelings and build links between feelings, situations, thoughts and behaviours. This also includes resources to help develop problem solving skills, make goals, coping plans and use flexible thinking.
  4. I CAN do – helps the individual to practice, be rewarded for trying, access support and have fun!

Demonstrating that if Peli can and Tou can, then you can. 

PELI CAN is not a fixed manual. It recognises that each child and young person is unique, with very wide ranges of abilities (including learning, attention, communication, physical, sensory, sequencing, memory etc.). 

As well as being of different ages, it recognises adverse childhood experiences/trauma and other linked intersectionalities (such as culture, race, gender, sexuality etc). Ideas for activities are provided with links to electronic resources which can be chosen by the adult and child. 

You don’t need specific training to use the framework, just experience supporting children and young people with additional needs.

Outcomes include:

  • Improved engagement and participation; listening and turn taking; increases in noticing and naming body signs, learning and using chill skills and relaxation; increase in green and a reduction in red thoughts where able to; improved relationships and problem solving.
  • Reductions in behaviours described as challenging e.g. less ‘meltdowns’, ‘off the wall’ comments, throwing, kicking, hand-flapping.
  • Generalisation and application across settings for example at school and home, with parents, carers and social workers all noticing development of skills like managing outbursts.

Use the framework 


To access the resource or to ask any queries,  you can get in touch with Ro at

PELI CAN is supported by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities.



author Follow this blogger