Breaking Down Pragmatic Communication Skills
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience delays in the area of pragmatics, also known as the rules for social language. Children may produce long and complex sentences and speak clearly but still have pragmatic language delays.
Pragmatic communication skills
There are three major communication skills associated with pragmatic language. They are:
- Using language for different purposes. For example, the language used for greetings is different from the language used for making requests.
- Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation. When a child speaks, differently to a peer than to an adult. Adults speak differently to a peer than to a child. You may speak differently to a friend than to your boss.
- Following rules for conversations and storytelling. These rules can include staying on topic and introducing new topics appropriately.
How to help improve pragmatic communication skills
Here are some tips to help improve social language in each of the three areas discussed above.
- Using language for different purposes.
- Respond to an individual’s intended message instead of correcting errors they made in pronunciation or grammar. Then model the appropriate comment or question in your own speech.
- Target skills naturally. For example, practice greetings at the beginning of the day and prompt an individual to ask a peer for a desired item.
- Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation.
- Engage in role-play. Have your child pretend to talk to different people in various settings.
- Following rules for conversations and storytelling.
- Encourage your child to make a comment on a topic before changing it.
- Encourage your child to provide visual information when they tell a story.
- Demonstrate the importance of nonverbal signals. Discuss what a listener would think if a facial expression didn’t match an emotion being expressed.
One way of addressing these types of skills is through our Social Communication Groups. Contact us to find out more about these groups and how your child can participate.