Social communication with others requires a complex integration of skills in three areas:
- Social interaction
- Social cognition
- Pragmatic language skills
A social worker often addresses social interaction skills (e.g., understanding social rules, such as how to be polite) and social cognition skills (e.g., understanding the emotions of oneself and others). A speech-language pathologist often targets pragmatic language skills, which are the verbal and nonverbal behaviors used in social interactions.
A social interaction typically requires the ability to understand and use the following pragmatic language skills:
- Expression of a variety of communicative functions. Does the child communicate for a variety of reasons, such as attempting to control the actions of others, asking questions, exchanging facts, or expressing feelings?
- Use of appropriate frequency of communication. Does the child use an equal number of messages as his or her communication partner?
- Discourse (conversation) skills. Can the child initiate conversation, take turns, maintain and shift topics, and repair communication breakdowns?
- Flexible modification of language based on the social situation. Can the child switch between informal vs. formal language based on the setting and listeners?
- Narrative storytelling. Can the child tell coherent and informative stories?
- Nonverbal language. Can the child understand and use body language, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact?
- Nonliteral language skills. Does the child understand figurative language, jokes, words with multiple meanings, and inferences?
A child with a social communication disorder, also known as a pragmatic language impairment, may present with difficulties using language to participate in conversations. Impairments in pragmatic language can impact a child’s ability to make and keep friends. It is important that social language skills are viewed within the context of an individual child’s cultural background. A speech-language pathologist can identify and treat pragmatic language difficulties in children.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!