Social Communication Therapy

A Social Communication Disorder refers to a child’s difficulty with interpreting and using language (both verbal and nonverbal) in functional and expected ways.

It impacts the ability to participate successfully in groups, build/maintain relationships, and adapt to others effectively across contexts. It encompasses problems with social interaction, social understanding, and pragmatics (i.e., using language in the proper context). While all individuals with autism spectrum disorder have pragmatic problems, children without autism can also have a Social Communication Disorder.

What are some possible red flags?

Difficulty initiating language (i.e., self advocacy);

tendency to withdraw or avoid instead of using language skills to seek assistance and/or information; these children may have difficulty asking for help, asking questions to gain information, seeking clarification, and initiating appropriate social entrance and exit with people

Difficulty conceptualizing to a larger whole (i.e., getting the “big picture,”);

tendency to think in parts instead of fully relate pieces of information back to a larger pattern of behavior or thought; difficulty with reading comprehension, determining main idea, and following subplots; these children may have difficulty with reading comprehension, summarizing, understanding social and academic information, and organization

Difficulty understanding perspective (i.e., theory of mind);

tendency to think about their own thoughts and feelings even when in a group setting; difficulty understanding the needs, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, experiences, motives, intentions, expectations, and personality of others in order to respond appropriately; difficulty participating groups; difficulty with obligatory tasks not of their choosing; limited knowledge of what it means to participate in a relationship

Difficulty solving problems (i.e., executive function);

difficulty creating organizational structures that allow for flexibility and prioritization.; these individuals crave structure but have difficulty creating it; difficulty managing homework and predicting time to complete tasks

Difficulty interpreting abstract and inferential language (i.e., reading between the lines);

tendency to be black and white/rigid/literal in thinking; tendency to miss information communicated nonverbally (e.g., eye gaze, gesture, facial expression, and posture) resulting in difficulty understanding the total communicative messages and making sense of one’s surroundings (especially when in a group); difficulty understanding humor; difficulty knowing if they are being laughed at versus being laughed with and/or may produce inappropriate humor (Winner, 2007)

Why seek treatment?

Treatment is valuable as children with pure social communication needs are unlikely to qualify for services at school.

They generally have good grades, good test scores, average to above average IQs, and are not seen as having “educational problems.” At Red Door Pediatric Therapy, we understand that education not only includes academic knowledge but also includes preparing children to be effective communicators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers (i.e., social communication).

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