Social communication or pragmatic deficits can be defined as an individual’s ability to initiate, interpret and/or respond to verbal and non-verbal communication in real-life situations. In summary, it’s what we say, how we say it and if it’s appropriate given the situation.
People with social communication deficits may have normal to superior intelligence, yet have tremendous difficulty relating to others and determining an appropriate behavior based on the speaker or situation. The effects on peer relationships, school success, behavioral control and success in the workplace cannot be overstated.
Pragmatics involve three major communication skills:
- using language for different purposes
- changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation
- following rules
Deficits in these areas may include a reduction in:
- Interpretation of body language (i.e. eye contact, body space, gestures and facial expressions)
- An ability to see another person’s perspective
- Abstract thinking (e.g. inference, problem solving, sarcasm and idioms)
- Topic maintenance and/or an interest in others
Many people with social cognitive impairments fall into medical diagnoses of:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder/Aspergers
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder
- Nonverbal Learning Disorder
- Recovery from a right-sided stroke
- Traumatic brain injury
Therapeutic activities are designed to teach social rules and appropriate behaviors, foster social interactions and offer guidance to the client and family. Therapy may include computer and video-based instruction.