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Social Use of Language

Social pragmatic language deficits may be secondary to diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, or other communication or language disorders. A child with social pragmatic language deficits may have difficulty understanding and following the social rules of language and behavior. Common deficits in the social use of language include:

  • low attention to bids for interaction (i.e., responding to name or instruction), 
  • difficulty initiating interaction with others (i.e., greeting or playing with peers), 
  • difficulty taking the perspective of others,
  • limited use and understanding of imaginative play and humor, 
  • difficulty understanding and using appropriate body language, facial expressions, intonation, etc. to communicate feeling/meaning, 
  • and difficulty following the rules of conversation (turn taking, topic maintenance, sharing relevant information). 

Explicit teaching of perspective taking and social rules would be necessary to improve a child’s understanding of not only social rules, but how to implement them to share information effectively and form meaningful relationships with others. Successful treatment of social pragmatic language deficits should include an individualized program developed for a child based on their strengths and weaknesses.

Resources:  (overview of ASHA links for norms-less specific than link below)  (break down of communication milestones by age)

First Words Project Website: