Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder & Autism: Explained

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In the past few years, there has been a growing trend of social media use among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is not surprising since increased time spent communicating online has been shown to help improve cognitive development in youth. This phenomenon poses many questions about how this technology can be used to foster positive outcomes and mitigate possible negative impacts on children with ASD.,

The “social (pragmatic) communication disorder dsm-5” is a condition that is present in individuals with autism. It is defined as a difficulty in understanding how others might feel or what they might want from you, leading to more awkward interactions.


In the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, social (pragmatic) communication disorder (SCD) was first recognized as a separate diagnosis. Children with SCD were formerly often misdiagnosed as having autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

SCD and autism have similar features in that both conditions cause problems with social communication.

Both verbal and nonverbal communication, language processing, social cognition, and pragmatics will be difficult for someone with social (pragmatic) communication disorder. They will struggle to adjust their communication abilities and language to the social environment or circumstances. Kids will not have concerns with repetitive actions or limited and restricted interests, like they do with autism.

Both behavior therapies, such as applied behavior analysis, and speed and language therapy are used to treat social (pragmatic) communication impairment. Treatment will change as a kid grows older, and treatment regimens for young children, school-aged children, adolescents, and adults will alter.

Early intervention may assist a youngster in learning how to better control SCD and communicate.

What Is a Case of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Dysfunction?

A youngster with SCD may find it challenging to interact and communicate well with others. Relationships and academic achievement might be harmed by the illness.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of SCD:

  • Communication difficulties in a social setting. Problems with back-and-forth communication, asking questions, making remarks, replying to social discussion with pertinent ideas, and employing gestures like waving or finger pointing are all examples of this.

  • Inability to adhere to communication guidelines. This often entails difficulties with narrative, taking turns in a discussion, remaining on topic, controlling interactions using verbal and nonverbal communication techniques, and being able to repeat anything if it is misinterpreted.

  • Changes in communication and speaking style to meet the social environment. Depending on the audience, we all vary our communication style. We converse differently with a classmate than with a teacher, and we converse more softly indoors than outdoors. These scenarios may be difficult for someone with SCD. They could also have trouble matching tone, pitch, and linguistic grammar to the situation.

  • Making assumptions and hearing what isn’t expressed might be difficult. Those with SCD often have trouble recognizing tone, metaphors, humor, idioms, and contextual discourse and language.

Making and keeping relationships, as well as talking about thoughts and emotions, may be challenging with social (pragmatic) communication problem. The individual has difficulty speaking and comprehending language as well as social context. Following along in a conversation or making acceptable small chat might be difficult for someone with SCD.

SCD is, at its core, a communication problem that may make social settings awkward and overwhelming. It may lead to a variety of behavioral issues as well as challenges at school and at home.

Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder: What Causes It?

SCD has no known etiology, however there may be a hereditary component. According to some theories, social communication and pragmatic language impairments are heritable, meaning they may run in families. There is still research being done to see whether there is a genetic or hereditary relationship.

SCD is also assumed to be a right-hemisphere-related neurodevelopmental brain condition that makes it difficult to integrate both visual and spoken information at the same time.

According to some views, SCD is linked to impaired executive functioning.

Links Between SCD & Autism

Autism and social (pragmatic) communication problem share similar characteristics. Language, speech, verbal and nonverbal communication abilities, and social circumstances are all problematic in both cases.

Autism differs from ADHD in that it contains typical characteristics such as intense and near-obsessive concentration on certain areas of interest or items, as well as repetitive activities.

Autism and SCD cannot be diagnosed at the same time. Since the publication of the DSM-5 in 2013, they have been classified as two distinct disorders.

Before SCD is diagnosed, it is often necessary to exclude out autism. If a kid does not exhibit all of the behavioral signs of autism but has difficulty communicating with others, they may be diagnosed with SCD.

Early Intervention with a SCD Diagnosis Has Its Advantages

When a child’s social communication abilities are clearly lacking, SCD is diagnosed around the age of 4 or 5. A youngster should be able to engage socially and have established verbal abilities by this age. SCD children often fail to meet linguistic milestones on time and show little enthusiasm in social connections.

Other developmental and linguistic delays and disorders may share traits with social (pragmatic) communication problem. Hearing loss and autism, for example, must usually be evaluated and discarded first.

In order to diagnose SCD, parents’ involvement, observations, and assessments (often in a variety of contexts) are useful tools. As part of the diagnosis procedure, speech and language pathologists often perform assessments.

Early diagnosis allows interventions and therapies to begin as soon as possible, providing the most benefit to the kid. While SCD cannot be cured, it may be managed by teaching children good social and communication skills.

The sooner treatments are implemented, the more tools and social skills a kid might gain throughout critical developmental periods.

Applied Behavior Analysis & Other Behavioral Interventions

The main therapy for autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is a behavioral intervention. While SCD varies from autism in certain respects, it has many of the same social and communication challenges. As a consequence, ABA has the potential to help both illnesses.

By employing positive reinforcement to promote desirable behaviors while decreasing and phasing out unwanted behaviors, ABA may assist to enhance communication and language abilities. ABA is very versatile and may be modified to meet the individual requirements of each client. It may be utilized in a number of contexts, including a doctor’s office or clinic, a client’s home, or a school.

The most often suggested SCD therapies build on a child’s strengths while also addressing their deficiencies. Within this context, ABA operates.

ABA can:

  • Address the precise impediments to communication that are preventing you from communicating effectively.

  • Teach skills and techniques that will help you communicate and socialize more effectively.

  • Encourage and promote self-reliance.

  • Establish personal objectives and a strategy for achieving them.

  • Improve your communication skills, social skills, intellectual ability, and self-confidence.

In the treatment of SCD, additional behavioral therapies may be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, focuses on the relationships between emotions, ideas, and actions. CBT may aid in the reduction of negative social or communication behaviors and the replacement of such behaviors with more positive ones.

Speech & Language Therapy

Both verbal and nonverbal communication skills may be improved with speech and language therapy. The treatment may also help people have a better grasp of social circumstances and develop social skills.

During speech and language therapy sessions, there are various tools that might be helpful, including:

  • Alternative and supplemental communication (AAC). To augment speech, AAC employs visuals, gestures, and other non-verbal approaches.

  • Conversations from a comic strip A comic strip illustrates and depicts conversations between two or more persons. This might then be used to illustrate how someone is feeling or thinking. The social interaction is also broken up into tiny portions that are simpler to grasp and follow in comic strips.

  • Instruction through video. Using movies to model social behaviors and computer technology to teach abilities such as language, social skills, problem-solving, and social understanding, therapists may help clients improve their social skills.

  • Stories, scripts, images, and social media tactics are all available. Visual and verbal aids may be used to educate youngsters how to enhance their social and communication skills.

  • Exercises including role-playing. These activities may assist a youngster in gaining a better understanding of both sides of a social encounter. It’s a simple method to figure out what to anticipate from others and what they should expect from themselves.

Speech and language therapists often begin their treatment with a kid with SCD on a one-on-one basis. Small group sessions may be added later to supplement the therapy strategy. In a secure, regulated, and highly organized atmosphere, small group settings may assist youngsters learn how to engage with peers.

In treatment, families play an important role. They assist the kid in applying what they have learnt in the sessions to their daily lives and in developing these abilities.

Treatment Plans for People of Different Ages

People of all ages may be affected by social (pragmatic) communication dysfunction. Treatment strategies may vary depending on the child’s developmental stage.

Adolescents and people moving into adulthood will need assistance with different social interactions than young children. Making and retaining close friends is difficult for children with SCD, and romantic connections are difficult for people with SCD. 

  • Children in their early years: Children may learn how to start and react to social settings via behavioral interventions and speech and language treatments. This entails learning to comprehend and communicate in both verbal and nonverbal ways.

  • School-aged children: School-based therapies are often available. Social assistance, specialized services such as an assistant, social skills training, and speech therapy are some of the options. Reading comprehension, academic capabilities, social connections, and communication abilities may all be addressed in therapy.

  • Adolescents and adolescents moving to adulthood: Social skills groups and therapies are available to help teenagers with SCD move out of school and into adult life. A variety of professionals, including speech and language pathologists, vocational counselors, psychologists, and school counselors, may all help teenagers make the move to adulthood easier.

  • Adults: Life skills courses and peer support groups for adults with SCD may help them navigate social settings, improve conversational skills, and complete daily duties.

Individualized treatment for social (pragmatic) communication problem should be based on extensive examinations and observations. As a person grows older and changes, their treatment plan should be reevaluated. Parents, physicians, therapists, teachers, and mental and medical health specialists will collaborate to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will aid in the management of SCD and the improvement of social communication.

A person with social (pragmatic) communication problem may make significant changes with adequate treatment, enabling them to participate in healthy, fulfilling relationships.


Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder & Autism: Explained is a disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social communication and interaction. It can be classified as an autism spectrum disorder. Reference: social pragmatic communication disorder icd-10.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is social pragmatic communication disorder?

A: A type of disorder that is characterized by a persons inability to understand social cues, or the lack of understanding for the purpose or effect another individual may have with their words. This can cause people who suffer from this condition to lash out at those around them, alienating themselves and often hurting others in the process.

What are the symptoms of social pragmatic communication disorder?

A: Social pragmatic communication disorder is a form of social anxiety which includes an unwillingness or inability to communicate with others socially.

What is an example of social pragmatics?

A: The pragmatics of social interaction are the study of how people communicate, and more specifically, how they can create a good impression on others. It is important to understand what makes a person likeable or dislikeable in order to be able to develop strategies for interacting with them.

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