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Pragmatic Disorders

Pragmatics is the ability to appropriately interact with another by:

  • Maintaining appropriate eye contact
  • Verbal turn-taking
  • Using language appropriate to the social situation
  • Connecting with others

Pragmatic disorder occurs for many children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and can also occur in other children.

Signs of a pragmatic disorder

  • Poor/inappropriate eye contact
  • Inability to take turns during conversation and games
  • Inability to engage in the give and take of a conversation
  • Difficulty understanding how to use communication (verbal and non-verbal) to get needs and wants met across social situations
  • Getting stuck on particular topics or ideas
  • Difficulty moving from one topic or activity to another (transitions)

Ways to facilitate development of social communication and help prevent problems:

  • Model appropriate turn-taking and eye contact
  • Engage in “people” games or social routines from a very young age
  • Play simple turn-taking games
  • Provide shared social experiences appropriate to developmental level
  • Gain child’s attention before speaking (get on child’s level, say name)
  • Help children play with each other and model appropriate social skills