A child or teen with the disorder will experience difficulties with following the usual social rules of communication, whether they are verbal or non-verbal, following the rules for storytelling, conversation, and changing language depending on the situation or the needs of the listener. The issues with social communication can lead to children and teens having a hard time with communicating effectively with others, participating in a social manner with others, and may affect their academic performance.
Defined as "the synergistic emergence of social interaction, social cognition, pragmatics (verbal and nonverbal), and receptive and expressive language processing" (Adams, 2005, p. 182). Social communication disorders may include problems with social interaction, social cognition, and pragmatics. A social communication disorder may be a distinct diagnosis or may occur within the context of other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), specific language impairment (SLI), learning disabilities (LD), language learning disabilities (LLD), intellectual disabilities (ID), developmental disabilities (DD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Other conditions (e.g., psychological/emotional disorders and hearing loss) may also impact social communication skills. In the case of ASD, social communication problems are a defining feature along with restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior - www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Social-Communication-Disorders-in-School-Age-Children/
The disorder is usually diagnosed by the time a person is five years old because most children should have adequate speech and language abilities by that time. The specific symptoms of social communication disorder include:
Suggestions for Intervention
Students with social communication disorders many times demonstrate difficulty interacting with others and functioning effectively in the classroom learning environment. They might demonstrate difficulty initiating interactions, using language effectively to obtain basic needs, taking turns, and might respond inappropriately to the language of others. They often make statements that are inappropriate or rude, yet may not understand why their behavior is upsetting to other people. As a result of their behavior, they might be rejected by others in their peer group and find themselves with few friends.
Social communication deficits are common in students who have been diagnosed with autism and related disorders. Students with these deficits often exhibit inappropriate emotional reactions in social situations. They might smile or laugh inappropriately and may exhibit facial expressions that are not appropriate for the context. These students often times have difficulty expressing basic needs and trouble with using language effectively to regulate the actions of other people.
Instructional programs for students with social communication disorders need to concentrate on the functional aspects of communication. In other words, they need to learn skills such as those presented in the table below:
Skills For Children with Social Communication Disorder:
Parents should model appropriate behaviors for their children with social communication disorder and provide opportunities for their children to practice these behaviors in everyday social situations. It is important for parents and teachers to work as a team in developing strategies for improving social interactions in children with social communication disorder.