Pragmatic/Social Communication Disorders

Pragmatic/Social Communication Disorders

Pragmatics refers to the rules that govern social language. An individual may say words clearly and use long, complex sentences with correct grammar, but still have a communication problem  if he or she has not mastered the rules for social language.

Pragmatics includes:

1. Using language for different purposes:

  • greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye)
  • informing (e.g., I’m going to get a cookie)
  • demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)
  • promising (e.g., I’m going to get you a cookie)
  • requesting (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)

2. Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation:

  • talking differently to a baby than to an adult
  • giving background information to an unfamiliar listener
  • speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground

3. Following rules for conversations and storytelling:

  • taking turns in conversation
  • introducing topics of conversation
  • staying on topic
  • rephrasing when misunderstood
  • how to use verbal and nonverbal signals
  • how close to stand to someone when speaking
  • how to use facial expressions and eye contact

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Children with autism spectrum disorders often have difficulty connecting with others in socially acceptable ways.  Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s may communicate well with adults in a one to one setting but struggle to engage in conversations with peers which can lead to feelings of isolation.  Therapy can be helpful for teaching these children how to join in on a conversation by waiting for a pause, establishing eye contact and offering a related comment or question.  They may benefit from learning how to focus on their communication partners interests without derailing the topic.  Some children struggle to understand and respond to sarcasm and nonverbal body language such as facial expression and body postures. Teaching children how to offer or accept a compliment and how to strike up a light conversation with others can help children feel less isolated within their classroom setting.

We offer individual and group therapy sessions depending on the needs of your child.  Some children benefit from a series of individual sessions to acquire new skills prior to being introduced into a group setting.  Enrollment in group sessions is based upon the availability of children of similar ages and needs within our practice.  Please contact us if you would like further information about social skills groups.