Learning About Pragmatics

October 9, 2017 - Stephanie Imlay

Learning About Pragmatics

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, defines Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder as “problems with social uses of language.”

Facts include:

1. All children with autism have social communication problems.
2. Children with other disorders also may have social communication problems.
3. Sometimes a child just has a social communication disorder.
4. Children with social communication problems also may have other language disorders. These may include problems with vocabulary, grammar, reading, or writing.

A social communication disorder may lead to behavior issues. Children may become frustrated because of their communication difficulties. Children who have social communication problems without restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities may be diagnosed as having a Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder rather than an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Cornerstone’s Speech-Language Pathologist Madison Logan says, “I (as well as the ABA therapists) incorporate pragmatics every day with the kiddos here at Cornerstone! For my kiddos who have pragmatic goals, we practice these communication skills with other children by walking around the center and engaging in conversation with their peers. We work on greeting others with a loud voice and using eye contact, asking questions, making related comments, maintaining eye contact during conversation, facing the listener, using and understanding gestures to communicate, and more. We also watch short social clips and discuss what happened in them – I typically choose clips where there is a problem-solving scenario and then ask them how the person in the video solved that problem and we discuss ways that it could have been improved upon if it was not handled in a socially appropriate way.”

Madison goes on to say, “The biggest prerequisite of using pragmatics with a client is to make sure you are being a good model! Kids watch everything we do, so if we model good pragmatic skills, they will learn how to use them as well. Examples of these include but are not limited to:”

  • Greetings (e.g., hello, goodbye)
  • Requesting appropriately (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)
  • Taking turns in conversation
  • Introducing topics of conversation
  • Staying on topic
  • Rephrasing when misunderstood
  • Using verbal and nonverbal signals (communicative gestures)
  • Modeling appropriate proximity while standing to someone when speaking
  • Modeling appropriate facial expressions and eye contact

To learn more about pragmatics, additional information can be found here: (http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Autism/).

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October 9, 2017, Stephanie Imlay

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