Children with a social communication disorder or SCD most often have difficulty using language in social situations. Its cause is a problem called pragmatics — how meaning is created and interpreted in verbal and nonverbal interactions.
Children with SCD do not have problems with understanding word structure or grammar. However, they have difficulty using their language skills in everyday situations, such as greetings, sharing information, switching speech to suit different social conditions, understanding things implied but not explicitly stated, or functioning in conversation and storytelling.
SCD is a relatively new disorder that was introduced when the DSM-5 (diagnostic manual) was published in 2013. To be diagnosed with SCD, the symptoms of the disorder must be present in early childhood, although the symptoms might not be fully manifested until speech, language, and communication demands start to exceed the pragmatic skills.
A child may have SCD if they have a firm grasp of communication and linguistic skills but have a hard time applying them in certain social situations. If a child does not initiate social interaction with others, responds minimally, or abnormally it could be a sign of SCD.
SCD can impair a child’s ability to comprehend short conversations or lengthier discussions, narratives, or respond appropriately to different social situations. Although SCD affects all different types of verbal and nonverbal communication: spoken, written, gesture, and even sign language, it is not autism. Children with autism have social communication challenges and repetitive behaviors, while children with SCD have only social communication challenges.
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Steve Doherty, M.S. Health Science