Social (Pragmatic) Communication Language Disorder (SCD)

Written by Nirali Talati

Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist
B.Sc, B.Sp.Path, C.P.S.P

We can not talk about social communication skills without starting a debate!

You may have met someone in your life who finds it difficult to talk to people in groups or finds it hard to talk to unfamiliar people. Maybe they struggle to understand the ‘hidden’ rules of communication. Or you may know someone who always goes off on a tangent when talking or always talks about what they like without considering the audience. These are some examples of how individuals who consistently presents with these communication difficulties may have SCD.

SCD is defined as difficulties with using verbal and/or nonverbal language such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to communicate in a social setting not related to any cognitive deficits. Individuals with SCD may have difficulties with maintaining long term relationships, understanding and using indirect language such as sarcasm and idioms.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder have social communication difficulties that are similar to SCD. However, to diagnose an individual with SCD, other neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism needs to be ruled out.

Social norms are different across cultures and environments which makes it challenging for professionals to diagnose SCD. Culturally sensitive approach needs to be taken when assessing individuals, creating a safer space for everyone and ensuring appropriate treatment options are provided.

If you know anyone who might need support with their social or pragmatic language skills, you can contact Box Hill Speech Pathology and one of our trained speech pathologists can help you.

Nirali Talati

Certified practicing speech pathologist (B.Biomedical Science, M. Speech pathology)

Adams, C., Lockton, E., Freed, J., Gaile, J., Earl, G., McBean, K., Nash, M., Green, J., Vail, A., & Law, J. (2012). The Social Communication Intervention Project: a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of speech and language therapy for school-age children who have pragmatic and social communication problems with or without autism spectrum disorder. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 47(3), 233–244.
Amoretti, M. C., Lalumera, E., & Serpico, D. (2021). The DSM-5 introduction of the Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder as a new mental disorder: a philosophical review. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 43(4).
Norbury, C. F. (2014). Practitioner Review: Social (pragmatic) communication disorder conceptualization, evidence and clinical implications. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(3), 204–216.

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