Pediatric Speech Therapy Services

Social Communication Disorders

A social communication disorder is an impairment in the ability to interact and communicate appropriately with others. Individuals with this disorder may have difficulty initiating or maintaining conversations, interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues, understanding jokes or non-literal language, and maintaining back-and-forth conversation. They may also have difficulty following rules of conversation, such as taking turns when speaking or responding appropriately to the other person’s comments.

People with a social communication disorder can also have difficulty expressing their thoughts or understanding the thoughts of others, as well as following social routines and adjusting their communication depending on their environment. As a result, those with social pragmatic communication disorder often experience difficulty in social situations and miss important opportunities for developing conversational skills and interpersonal connections. It is important to note that while these types of disorders can cause challenges in daily life, they are treatable through speech therapy intervention.

Some difficulties may include the following:

  • Holding a conversation
  • Taking turns in conversation
  • Understanding sarcasm, jokes, or non-literal language
  • J Joining/Exiting a group in conversation appropriately
  • Understanding facial expressions or body language
  • Using appropriate topics in conversation
  • Identifying and being aware of the emotions of another
  • Taking perspectives to relate to others
  • Following social norms

Social Communication encompasses the following:

Pragmatics is considered the main focus of social communication. Pragmatics is the ability to communicate appropriately in social situations. This includes the appropriate use of and focus on language, physical cues, auditory cues, and visual cues to communicate information in a variety of social settings with a variety of conversational partners.

How do you work on these skills?

Treating a social communication disorder requires a comprehensive speech-language pathology approach involving multiple components.

First, it is important to identify the areas of difficulty and work on building the person’s language and/or social communication skills. This may include identifying some areas that the client feels would be good to focus on, such as making friends, practicing interviewing skills, or learning how to meet new people.

The most successful way for a child to improve social communication skills is to learn strategies for social interactions, describe how to use strategies and skills appropriately, practice it in “pretend” scenarios, and practice it in “real-life” scenarios. Additionally, a speech-language pathologist may also utilize therapeutic techniques such as role-play and visual supports to help the person learn appropriate social skills.

Finally, it is also helpful for family members and teachers to understand how their loved one or student communicates, so they can provide them with the support and assistance they need to succeed. Family and friends are so important in this process for clients to learn how to communicate better and share how they communicate with their loved ones.

My child just has some difficulty with these skills. Why would I do therapy to address them?

From school classrooms to interviewing for jobs, we are always interacting, communicating, and working with others. We have to learn how to work with a variety of personalities, perspectives, and outlooks! That can be difficult for children with social communication issues. Working on social language skills increases the likelihood of success in various environments and stages of life, such as school, college, jobs, friendships, and romantic relationships. Pragmatics therapy can build your child’s social communication skills and provide a “plan” for interacting with people in every environment we will participate in.

How are Social Communication Disorders Diagnosed?

Evaluations for social communication challenges involve an extensive review of the person’s history, language abilities, and day-to-day functioning. Speech-language pathologists typically evaluate a wide range of skills alongside pragmatics, such as vocabulary, grammar, and language concepts. In addition to assessing these linguistic abilities, they also assess their ability to complete social routines, engage in conversation appropriately, and understand nonverbal communication. Speech therapists will also consider other relevant factors, such as client specified goals, client desires for therapy, and family dynamics.

Clinicians Providing These Services:
Megan Crisler Megan Zecher