by Rena Dadolf, M.S., CCC-SLP and Theresa Menz, M.S., CCC-SLP
We’re hearing a lot these days about Pragmatic Language Disorders…
The first question many teachers and parents have is “What is Pragmatic Language?”
Pragmatics is the understanding and use of language in social situations – in other words, successfully having conversations with other people.
Pragmatic skills involve understanding and using nonverbal skills such as body language as well as what we say, how we say it, and the appropriateness of what we say.
Pragmatic skills are vital for communicating our personal thoughts, ideas and feelings. Children with pragmatic language weakness may misinterpret others’ communicative intent and have difficulty responding appropriately verbally or non-verbally. Conversation skills are often weak and children with this disorder may not engage in the back and forth fluid flow of questioning, answering, and commenting that comes so naturally to most of us.
Pragmatic Language Skills:
- Using language for different functions: greeting, informing, requesting
- Changing your language based on the needs of the person you are talking to:
- Speaking differently in the library than on a playground
- Giving background information
- Talking differently to a baby than an adult
- Following Conversation Rules:
- Taking turns in conversation
- Staying on topic
- Rephrasing when misunderstood
- Using appropriate facial expressions and eye contact
- Understanding how to take another person’s perspective
While all children need to be taught these skills, children with pragmatic language weaknesses need explicit instruction involving these skills. The use of visual supports, practice, and role play are key. Contact your school’s speech-language pathologist to learn more!