language development skills being worked on at home. Mother and daughter

How is Pragmatic Language Disorder Treated?

What is Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder?

Social pragmatic communication disorder (also known as SCD) refers to marked, distinct challenges related to both nonverbal and verbal communication skills that are used in social settings. In the context of SCD, these persistent difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication for social purposes cannot be explained by low cognitive ability, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), another medical or neurological condition, or underdeveloped skills in word structure and grammar. 

People with Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder often struggle to hold conversations and use spoken language in socially appropriate ways, but usually possess average to strong skills when it comes to the mechanics of speaking (pronouncing words and constructing sentences). While everyone struggles with social situations at some point, for a child with SCD, navigating social situations can be a daily challenge. Speech therapy can be one of the most effective courses of treatment for SCD. Learn more about this disorder and how speech therapy can help by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What are the Signs of Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder?

The signs and symptoms of Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder can vary widely in both type and intensity between individuals. Here are some of the most common signs of SCD:

  • Challenges with adapting or adjusting communication skills to fit different social contexts, such as greetings or initiating conversations
  • Difficulties with switching between formal and informal language
  • Taking turns during conversation is challenging 
  • Trouble with using nonverbal communication strategies during social interactions, such as regular eye contact, facial expressions, and hand gestures
  • Struggles to understand nonliteral language, such as sarcasm, inferences, metaphors, clichés, and idioms typically made during conversation
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining friendships 

Struggling with one or more of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean you have Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder. In fact, to be diagnosed with this particular communication disorder, the symptoms must significantly affect or interfere with:

  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Ability to Socialise
  • Be Successful at Work
  • Academic Success

Learn more about the signs of SCD and how speech therapy can help by scheduling your free introductory call today!

What Causes Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder?

Scientists and Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes SCD, but it is believed to be a type of neurodevelopmental (brain) disorder. Similar to other psychological and communication disorders, the exact cause of Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder is not well understood at this time. What is clear is that genetic factors likely play a significant role, and those who have a family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Communication Disorders, or specific learning disorders are generally more likely to receive an SCD diagnosis.

Is Pragmatic Language Disorder on the Autism Spectrum?

SCD is also considered separate from certain neurodevelopmental disorders that may also affect communication skills, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are many ways to distinguish Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder from autism. Visits to doctors and speech pathologists are necessary, as well as hearing tests and other screenings to ensure that the individual is properly diagnosed. People with ASD often present symptoms that are common in SCD. In most cases, people with autism will repeat certain behaviors and often exhibit disruptive behaviors. Individuals with an SCD diagnosis will not display these types of behaviors. 

How Does Speech Therapy Treat Social Pragmatic Language Disorder? 

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a highly important role in the assessment and treatment of those with a social communication disorder such as SCD. 

Speech-language pathologists are highly knowledgeable about the milestones and expectations that exist at each phase of a child’s social communication development. The SLP always considers family and cultural differences and observes the child as a whole when identifying whether a social communication issue is present. If so, treatment such as speech therapy will likely be recommended.

Speech Therapy appointments may include some or all of the following:

  • Learning & Practising Social Routines
  • Learning How to Establish Friendships
  • Social Skills Education (greetings, introductions, conversations, humor, etc.)
  • Games & Activities that Practice Skills such as Turn-Taking, Asking Questions, etc.
  • Group Programming
  • Parent & Caregiver Education

Speech-Language pathologists in all cases will provide support and education to families, caregivers, teachers, and other professionals to ensure there are more opportunities to strengthen social communication skills in the real world. Speech therapists play an essential role in addressing this complex issue. Just as with other communication problems, early identification by an experienced SLP can change the trajectory of a child’s social communication growth and development. SLP’s can make a major difference in helping a child or adolescents reach their fullest potential in social and academic situations.

How Can Pragmatic Language Skills be Improved?

There are lots of things that parents and caregivers can do with their children to help improve and strengthen pragmatic language skills. Some of these activities include: 

Role-Playing: Engage in role-play activities with adults and other children simulating common social situations 

Facial expressions: Observe facial expressions and discuss the feelings associated with the expressions 

Miming: Practice miming different facial expressions that demonstrate different emotions and see if the child can guess what it is 

Describing Activities: Look at pictures that encourage descriptive language about a topic or object, using prompts to keep the child on topic.

Social Skills Groups: Work with your child’s school to set up some small structured groups where they can practice social skills with their peers

StoryTelling: Develop and tell social stories that illustrate appropriate behavior and responses in specific social situations.

Greetings: Encourage your child to always say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’  when engaging in social interactions.

At Great Speech, our dedicated team of experienced speech-language pathologists offers services for anyone who is struggling with their communication skills, including those related to a social pragmatic communication disorder. Whatever your needs are, Great Speech has got you covered. Schedule a free introductory call to get matched with one of our speech therapists, and begin your journey to more confident and effective communication today!