Social Communication-What does it mean?

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Social communication is the broad term that describes how we use communication (both verbal and non-verbal) in social situations. In its most basic sense it is how we interpret and interact with those around us.

Social communication goes by many names. You might also hear:

  • Pragmatics
  • Pragmatic Language
  • Social Langauge
  • Social Skills
  • Functional communication
  • Interpersonal Communication

All these different names can make an already complicated concept even more confusing.

To keep it simple we will refer to it only as “social communication” in this blog. There are 5 key parts of the social communication puzzle:

  1. Social Interaction
  2. Social Cognition
  3. Pragmatics-Verbal
  4. Pragmatics- Non-verbal
  5. Langauge Processing

The table below breaks each of these down.

Social Communication-What does it mean? » social communication

Development of social communication skills

Social communication development starts at birth and is a life-long process that is also dependent on all other areas of growth for young children. For this reason it is common for children with speech and language delays to also experience difficulties with social communication. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD or other developmental disorders also commonly have difficulty with social communication.

Development of social communication is on a unique timeline for every child. Below is are some general milestones for this area, BUT REMEMBER, these skills don’t develop in a straight line, so your child may have some skills developed seemingly “ahead of time” or “behind.”


What can you do if you are concerned about your child’s social communication?

Talk to your Speech Pathologist. Discuss your concerns and any concerns other familiar people have raised with you (e.g. teachers, extended family).  A Social Language Assessment may be required. This assessment should include a mix of interviews (with family and teachers), checklists and informal tasks to see how your child performs in different environments and with different people.
After assessment, intervention may be necessary and your Speech Pathologist can help you learn how to support your child to grow their skills. Information on the programs and strategies on offer at Small TALK will be coming soon in a future blog.

If you found this blog helpful you might also like:

Finding your way with emotions

Finding opportunities for language learning in every day: A busy family’s guide

Making Motivation

For more info on social communication:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Social-Communication/

Raising Children https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/scd

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