What is Social Communication Disorder?

Emotion emoticons used by a psychologist during a therapy session with a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

Social Communication Disorder, is also known as social communication pragmatic disorder. It’s a relatively recent addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

Up until 2013, SCD was a criterion for diagnosing a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Today, it’s seen as a separate condition and treated accordingly. 

This is what you need to know about social communication disorder. Social Communication Disorder isn’t as easily diagnosed as other communication problems prevalent among children.

Social Communication Disorder Symptoms

  • Children with SCD face less obvious obstacles when it comes to getting the message across. They often misinterpret contextual aspects of an interaction. 
  • Early signs of SCD include:
  • Difficulty in choosing the appropriate language according to their setting e.g. in the playground vs. the classroom
  • Difficulty reading the flow of conversation and interpreting cues like nonverbal and verbal signals
  • Misunderstanding humor, idioms, metaphors, and other indirect statements
  • Incorrect use of eye contact and body language
  • Piping up with inappropriate comments while conversing
  • Disorganized storytelling skills

Autism and Social Communication Disorder share many of these characteristics. The main difference is that children with SCD don’t exhibit the repetitive and restricted behavior patterns of autism. 

What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has SCD
If your child fails to meet the age-appropriate benchmarks for communication, act now.

The first person to talk to is their teacher. They’ll be able to give you more information about your child’s daily struggles. Make a note of anything that the teacher mentions as well as your own observations.

Ask for an evaluation of your child’s communication issues. Some schools employ a speech-language pathologist who will help with this.

The next step is a full evaluation by a registered child psychologist. They’ll perform comprehensive tests and give you a detailed diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Treatment for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder 

The great news for parents is that social communication disorder is manageable, although it takes work.

There is no need for your child to attend a special school due to an SCD diagnosis. All they need is a lot more practice at communicating effectively.
Speak to their teacher and the school administrators about setting up an Individualized Education Plan for your child. 

Extra sessions with a speech-language pathologist will also help. They’ll train your child to recognize and practice non-verbal communication and social interaction.

Yet, the most important way to help your child is by getting the whole family involved. Pay attention to their interactions and guide them in the right direction.

The more you expose your child to social situations and guide them through the process, the better. Join social skills groups and participate in activities for children with similar disorders. These are fun and interactive ways to enhance their skills. 

Put Your Mind at Ease. If you suspect that your child is not quite on the same level as their peers in any aspect, it’s important to get help and start treatment as soon as possible.

Get in touch right away to book a full assessment and start working towards a brighter future for your child.