Pragmatics involve three major communication skills:
Using language for different purposes, such as:
- greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye)
- informing (e.g., I’m going to get a cookie)
- demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)
- promising (e.g., I’m going to get you a cookie)
- requesting (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)
Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as:
- talking differently to a baby than to an adult
- giving background information to an unfamiliar listener
- speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground
Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as:
- taking turns in conversation
- introducing topics of conversation
- staying on topic
- rephrasing when misunderstood
- knowing how to understand and use verbal and nonverbal signals
- knowing how close to stand to someone when speaking
- knowing how to understand and use facial expressions and eye contact
These rules may vary across cultures and within cultures. It is important to understand the rules of your communication partner.
An individual with pragmatic problems may:
- say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations
- tell stories in a disorganized way
- have little variety in language use
- be unable to relate to his or her speaker or understand the subtle social cues in a conversation
- have difficulty staying on topic of a conversation and may constantly attempt to only talk about limited things that interest him or her.
- be unable to make appropriate eye contact or know how to take conversational turns
- be unable to understand the listener’s perspective
It is not unusual for children to have pragmatic problems in only a few situations. However, if problems in social language use occur often and seem inappropriate considering the child’s age, a pragmatic disorder may exist. Pragmatic disorders often coexist with other language problems such as vocabulary development or grammar. Pragmatic problems can lower social acceptance. Peers may avoid having conversations with an individual with a pragmatic disorder.
For pragmatic language therapy and services, please contact us, we serve Chicago, the North Shore, and Northern and Western Suburbs.