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Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

Social (Pragmatic) Communication DisorderSocial (pragmatic) communication disorder is characterized by difficulty with the use of social language and communication skills (also called pragmatic communication by professionals). A child or teen with this disorder will have difficulty in following the ordinary social rules of communication (whether they are verbal or nonverbal), following the rules for storytelling or conversations (each person takes a turn), and changing language depending upon the situation or needs of the listener.

These kinds of problems in social communication lead to the child having a difficult time communicating effectively with others, participating in a social manner with others, and can even affect academic performance.

This disorder is most commonly diagnosed by age 5, since most children should possess adequate speech and language abilities by that time.

Specific Symptoms of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

1. Persistent difficulties in the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication as manifested by all of the following:

  • Deficits in using communication for social purposes, such as greeting and sharing information, in a manner that is appropriate for the social context.
  • Impairment of the ability to change communication to match context or the needs of the listener, such as speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground, talking differently to a child than to an adult, and avoiding use of overly formal language.
  • Difficulties following rules for conversation and storytelling, such as taking turns in conversation, rephrasing when misunderstood, and knowing how to use verbal and nonverbal signals to regulate interaction.
  • Difficulty understanding what is not explicitly stated (e.g., making inferences) and nonliteral or ambiguous meaning of language (e.g., idioms, humor, metaphors, multiple meanings that depend on the context for interpretation).

2. The deficits result in functional limitations in effective communication, social participation, social relationships, academic achievement, or occupational performance, individually or in combination.

3. The onset of symptoms is in the early developmental period.

4. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder and are not due to a general medical or neurological condition, or to low abilities in the domains of word structure and grammar, and are not better explained by autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, or global developmental delay.

 

This diagnosis is new to the DSM-5. Code: 315.39 (F80.89)

Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder


John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/social-pragmatic-communication-disorder/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Sep 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Sep 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.