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What are Pragmatic Language Disorders and Social Communication Disorders?


Pragmatics Language Disorders also referred to Social Communication Disorders, involves the use of language for social purposes. With younger children, it involves using language for requesting objects, actions, information; answering questions, and refusing. For older children and adults, pragmatics also involves social reasoning and problem solving skills. People with pragmatic language difficulties may have difficulty using language in specific situations such as greetings, informing, promising, requesting and following rules of conversation (ex. making appropriate eye contact, staying on topic, understanding nonverbal signals from listeners). An example of following conversational rules would be turn taking, staying on topic, starting and ending conversations, etc.  As children get older, a pragmatic language disorder may become more evident when they encounter trouble understanding jokes, common colloquial phrases, metaphors, and/or sarcasm.

How do I know if my child has Pragmatic Language Disorders or Social Communication Disorder?


Children with pragmatic language disorders or social communication disorder may exhibit the following symptoms and if you notice any of these early signs, contact your child’s pediatrician immediately to make an appointment to assess for pragmatic language disorders.

  • Making inappropriate or unrelated comments during conversation

  • Inability to introduce or maintain a topic

  • Difficulty taking turns during conversation

  • Trouble making eye contact during conversation

  • Using disjointed language that leaves the listener confused

  • Trouble relating to peers

  • Trouble using variation in their language

  • Inability to make inferences or understand jokes

Pragmatic Language Disorders and Social Communication Disorder Treatment


While it may be difficult to handle a diagnosis of Pragmatic Language Disorders or Social Communication Disorder, these communication disorders can be treated with the assistance of an effective Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), as well as with parental, teacher and peer involvement.

A dedicated Speech Pathologist will work to provide functional and meaningful treatment as to help with mastery of skills across environments. SLPs will select from different modes of teaching, whether it be use of augmentative alternative communication (AAC), computer programs, or video modeling. Or they may reinforce conversation skills that build up a child’s ability to sustain a back-and-forth exchange rather than singular phrase production.

If your child is living with a pragmatic language disorder, finding a quality speech-language pathologist is a top priority. At Use Your Words Speech Therapy, our SLPs are experienced in treating a variety of speech-language disorders and do so with unparalleled skill and compassion.

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