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A parent's guide to social communication disorder

Updated: May 16, 2019

What is social communication disorder?

Social Communication Disorder encompasses problems with social interaction, social understanding and pragmatics. The severity can vary greatly. Pragmatics refers to using language in proper context. For example, it’s important for children to develop the ability to use language differently when playing with, say, a younger child versus a teacher.

What causes children to have social communication disorder?

The cause of social communication disorder as a distinct diagnosis is not known. Social Communication Disorder may accompany other conditions like intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, and language disorders.

How do I know if my kid has social communication disorder?

Social Communication Disorder is diagnosed based on difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal social communication skills. These skills include:

  • Responding to others

  • Using gestures (like waving or pointing)

  • Taking turns when talking or playing

  • Talking about emotions and feelings

  • Staying on topic

  • Adjusting speech to fit different people or situations – for instance, talking differently to a young child versus an adult or lowering one’s voice in a library.

  • Asking relevant questions or responding with related ideas during conversation

  • Using words for a variety of purposes such as greeting people, making comments, asking questions, making promises, etc.

  • Making and keeping friends

How do you treat Social Communication Disorder?

Treatment typically involves collaboration with a variety of professionals including teachers, special educators, and/ or psychologists. Social Communication Disorder may be treated in a one on one or group setting. Treatment strategies for social communication disorder focus on increasing engagement and building independence in natural communication environments. One on one and group sessions can teach and practice functional communication skills and promote generalization to more natural environments.

Other resources for social language and pragmatics delays:

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