Social Communication Disorder

Signs and symptoms of social communication disorder include deficits in social interaction, social cognition, and pragmatics (see ASHA’s resource on components of social communication [PDF]).

Specific behaviors affected by social communication disorder depend on the individual’s age, his or her expected stage of development (see ASHA’s resource on social communication benchmarks [PDF]), and the communication context. Some examples of behaviors affected by social communication disorder include

  • using appropriate greetings;
  • changing language and communication style based on setting or partner;
  • telling and understanding stories;
  • engaging in conversation (e.g., initiating or entering a conversation, maintaining the topic, taking turns);
  • repairing communication breakdowns (e.g., rephrasing when misunderstood);
  • using appropriate verbal (e.g., prosodic) and nonverbal (e.g., gestures) signals to regulate an interaction;
  • interpreting  the verbal and nonverbal signals of others during an interaction
  • understanding ambiguous or figurative language;
  • understanding information not explicitly stated (inferring); and
  • making and keeping close friendships.

Variations across all areas of social communication occur within and across cultures. Differences related to cultural norms are not considered disorders.   

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