Social Communication Disorder

Incidence of social communication disorder refers to the number of new cases identified in a specified time period. Prevalence of social communication disorder refers to the number of people who are living with social communication disorder in a given time period.

Precise estimates of the incidence and prevalence of social communication disorder have been difficult to determine because many investigations draw on varied populations and employ inconsistent or ambiguous definitions of the disorder. Moreover, with the relatively recent expansion of the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) to include the new diagnostic category of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder, it will be necessary to examine and evaluate the validity of the criteria for that disorder prior to estimating prevalence (Swineford, Thurm, Baird, Wetherby, & Swedo, 2014).

A population estimate based on a community sample of more than 1,300 kindergarteners suggests that pragmatic language impairment occurs in about 7.5% of children and affects more boys than girls by a ratio of 2.6:1.0 (Ketelaars, Cuperus, van Daal, Jansonius, & Verhoeven, 2009).

Higher prevalence rates (23%–33%) have been noted in individuals with language disorders (Botting, Crutchley, & Conti-Ramsden, 1998; Ketelaars et al., 2009).

Given that social communication problems co-occur with a number of other disorders, additional data on incidence and prevalence may be available for those conditions with other defining symptoms and characteristics.

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