Brecksville speech therapy

Brecksville Speech Therapy Team on Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder

Our Brecksville speech therapy team have successfully treated many kids with social pragmatic communication disorder. It’s a condition characterized by significant challenges with both verbal and nonverbal communication used regularly in social settings.

Social-communication trouble can be associated with other communication disorders, but social pragmatic communication disorder has been considered its own thing since 2013, when it was defined under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). It’s also separate from neurodevelopmental disorders that are often associated with social communication skills (namely autism). As the Brecksville speech therapy team at Therapy & Wellness Connection can explain, that means someone with autism may have social pragmatic communication disorders, but not all do and not everyone with a social pragmatic communication disorder is on the autism spectrum. Someone on the autism spectrum with this condition would receive different supports and treatment compared to someone solely with one or the other.

As defined in the new DSM-5 (specifically DSM5 315.39 (F80.89) ), social pragmatic communication disorder involves persistent difficulties in the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication, as manifested by all of the following:

  • Deficits in communicating for social purposes (greeting someone, sharing information, saying goodbye, etc.).
  • Difficulty changing one’s communication style to match the context or needs of the listener. For example, a child would need to communicate differently in a classroom with a teacher than they would on the playground with a friend. They wouldn’t use formal language playing on a jungle gym, etc.
  • Trouble following the rules for conversations and storytelling. Some examples our Brecksville speech therapy team can note off the top of our heads would be things like turn-taking in conversations, rephrasing something that’s misunderstood, or knowing how to use a nonverbal signal to regulate an interaction.
  • Excessive talking or interfering with others’ conversations.
  • Trouble understanding things that aren’t stated explicitly or difficulty with ambiguous, nonliteral language (humor, idioms, multiple meanings, etc.).

Although the onset of these symptoms are likely to surface in the early developmental period, they may not fully manifest until social communication demands exceed their capacities. Ultimately, we may see this impact their ability to make and maintain friendships, participate in teach sports, and excel in academics.

The most common areas of difficulty are those pertaining to social interactions, understanding others, nonverbal communication, and language processing. A person with this condition might have trouble understanding certain tones of voice, effectively sharing their own ideas or thoughts, or interpreting what someone else is saying not only based on their words but body language, etc. They may not use nonverbal gestures like pointing or waiving. They might have trouble keeping track of the topic that’s being discussed or finding ways to use the appropriate words in a conversation.

The main difference between social pragmatic communication disorder and autism is that ASD involves specific characteristic behaviors (i.e., intense/obsessive focus on a certain topic, frequent repetitive behaviors, disruptive behaviors, sensory issues, etc.).

A child who is diagnosed with ASD but doesn’t have some of those restrictive, repetitive, disruptive behaviors may need to be reevaluated for social pragmatic communication disorder. It’s a condition most commonly diagnosed in children, but can be diagnosed in adulthood as well.

Brecksville Speech Therapy Treatment for Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder

Treatment for this condition focuses on improving functional communication that’s need to effectively navigate social settings.

Our speech therapists at TWC work to identify the issues that are most challenging for the child, discover their interests, and then find ways to utilize those interests to engage them in mastering these skills to overcome social obstacles.

We first work on practicing those skills in a clinical setting – maybe even engaging other kids and therapists to participate – and then working to help kids generalize those skills as they progress.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Diagnostic Criteria for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder, Indiana Resource Center for Autism

More Blog Entries:

How Akron Speech Therapy Can Help With Auditory Processing Disorder, Oct. 27, 2022, Brecksville Speech Therapy Blog