Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder in Children With Specific Language Impairment: Pragmatic Language Impairment

Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder in Children With Specific Language Impairment: Pragmatic Language Impairment

Rokhsareh Kakvand
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0644-4.ch008
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Social communication disorder (SCD) has a rich history of different definitions and terms. It was known under the diagnostic label pragmatic language impairment, but it is currently known as SCD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. It is not clear if this language impairment is actually a separate diagnostic entity or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) owing to a massive lack of clarification on this term and its diagnostic criteria. As such, the diagnostic criteria and treatment of SCD are limited. The aim of this review is to clarify the related literature of SCD and ASD, focusing on pragmatic disorder and their overlaps. In addition, there is no clear-cut distinction between SCD and ASD, despite the recent increase in research into the diagnostic criteria and tools for both of these language impairments. Therefore, the relationship between SCD and ASD should be further explored.
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Specific Language Impairment (SLI) is a kind of language disorder that has no clear cognitive, physical, or neurological basis (Wadman et al., 2011). In addition to language disorder and speech, children with SLI have many problems in pragmatic skills (Pratt et al., 2006). Pragmatic skills refer to language skills that we use in our daily communication including what we say, how we say it, and nonverbal communication including eye-contact, gesture, and facial expressions, etc. (Toe et al., 2020). They show significant difficulties in mastering language (Stark & Tallal, 1981). Children with SLI and ASD suffer from behavioral, social, and emotional challenges in comparison with children who grow up normally (e.g., Conti-Ramsden et al., 2013; Fujiki et al., 1999; McCabe & Meller, 2004; Snowling et al., 2006). For instance, they face problems in communicating for social purposes and they have an impaired ability to manage and tailor the communication stream to the context. Moreover, they have difficulty in following the rules of a conversation and understanding the implicature (Ketelaars & Embrechts, 2017). In addition, English Language Learners (ELLs) have SLI that may be difficult to recognize. They are learners who cannot communicate fluently, accurately, and effectively. Therefore, they face many challenges at school because success at school depends on children’s ability to understand and use instructions to learn (Alt et al., 2014).

This review starts with a concise description of both the theoretical and empirical literature on Pragmatics, SCD and ASD, emphasizing the differences between SCD and ASD in order to better understand the characterizing features and commonalities of both; the available treatments have also been addressed.

The authors have addressed the impact of SCD and ASD on learning the first language among children. The main areas of their problems are communication for social purposes, contextual awareness, storytelling and conversation, and understanding what is said implicitly. Next, the assessment, questionnaire, and checklist for the diagnosis of children with language disorders have been described. Finally, they have talked about the current treatments of the disorder and their effectiveness on children with language disorders.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Turn Taking: It is a kind of organization in a conversation, where participants speak in alternating turns.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: It is a kind of disorder, which affects behavior, social interaction, and communication. It is characterized by restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior and thought.

Language Impairment: It is a deficit in the development of children's language normally or delays the mastery of language skills in them.

Pragmatic Language Impairment: It is a kind of impairment with having difficulty and challenges with both semantic of language and the pragmatics of language. On the other hand, difficulty in the meaning of what is being said and using language appropriately in social situations.

Implicit Language: The meaning is not explicitly expressed.

Social Communication Disorder: It is a difficulty in using language in social situations and problems in pragmatics—understanding the meaning and interpreting the verbal and nonverbal interactions.

English Language Learner: Students who have difficulty in communicating fluently or learning English effectively, who often come from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Besides, they typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses.

Narrative: It is a kind of story or description of a series of events.

Contextual Awareness: It is the ability to gather information about the environment at any time and respond accordingly.

Pragmatics: It is a branch of linguistics dealing with language use in a different context. It includes text organization, presupposition, take turning in conversation, and implicature.

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