The terms “social communication” or “pragmatics” skills refer to the way a child is able to use language for a variety of purposes (make requests, greeting, giving information/sharing) while following basic rules for conversation including:
- taking turns in conversation
- introducing topics of conversation
- staying on topic and maintaining a circle of communication
- recognizing and repairing miscommunications
- rephrasing when misunderstood
- use and understanding of nonverbal signals (gestures, body language, facial expression)
- personal proximity and orientation of body when speaking to others
- use and understand facial expressions and eye contact/ eye gaze
Weaknesses in pragmatic communication skills in children are concerning as they create barriers in the child’s development of interpersonal relationships with others and ability to develop and maintain friendships with his peers.
Children with autism spectrum disorders often have difficulty connecting with others in socially acceptable ways. Children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s may communicate well with adults in a one to one setting but struggle to engage in conversations with peers which can lead to feelings of isolation. Therapy can be helpful for teaching these children how to join in on a conversation by waiting for a pause, establishing eye contact and offering a related comment or question. They may benefit from learning how to focus on their communication partners’ interests without derailing the topic. Some children struggle to understand and respond to sarcasm and nonverbal body language such as facial expression and body postures. Teaching children how to offer or accept a compliment and how to strike up a light conversation with others can help children feel less isolated within their classroom setting.
We offer individual and group therapy sessions depending on the needs of your child. Some children benefit from a series of individual sessions to acquire new skills prior to being introduced into a group setting. Enrollment in group sessions is based upon the availability of children of similar ages and needs within our practice.