Pragmatics and Social Language

As a parent, you want your child to connect with other children, family members, and teachers. For some children, this is very difficult and can result in frustration and feelings of isolation.  Social language skills help a child navigate their daily life.  Using speech and language for social purposes is referred to pragmatic language. Pragmatic language helps children communicate their needs, thoughts, feelings, and emotions through verbal and nonverbal modalities. Conversation exchanges, turn-taking, eye contact during interactions, asking questions and waiting for responses, staying on the topic of conversation, and using appropriate language for the situation all fall under the umbrella of pragmatics. Nonverbal social language include using appropriate personal space, facial expressions, gestures and body language during interactions.  Children with a diagnosis of social communication disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience challenges with pragmatics and social language.

 

Children may benefit from speech therapy to help with pragmatics if they have difficulty with:

  • Turn-taking in play or conversation.

  • Staying on topic in conversations with others.

  • Appropriate responses, gestures, body language, and facial expressions.

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Pediatric speech-language pathologists can help children build vital pragmatic and social language skills.  As children improve their functional communication skills, they will also improve interactions with peers and family members.  Read more about how you can help your child connect with others.