Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

Social (PragmaticCommunication Disorder

Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder (SPD) is the earlier diagnostic term for Pragmatic Language Impairment (PLI) or Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder – a more current term –  and according to current state of knowledge a syndrome within or bordering on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), formerly known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

The range of terms may be of importance for future reference when in contact with doctors, educational institutions and the like.

Key Message

It is important that you understand the terminology that professionals may use – don’t be afraid to ask if someone uses language that you don’t understand!

Kindergarten Teacher Reading To Kids

Regarding diagnostics the name refers to a spectrum of symptoms rather than a health condition, however some sources refer to it as a kind of disease due to the convenience of use. Even today, irrespective of current knowledge in neurology, some medical practitioners and educators tend to approach the disorder in outdated and inaccurate ways.

 

 

 

What are figures of speech and how do they work?

People with speech, language and communication difficulties such as for example so-called semantic-pragmatic disorder often have problems with understanding figures of speech.

To understand it better, we have to take a closer look at two things.  The first one is the name of the condition: lets take the common term semantic-pragmatic disorder. “Semantic-pragmatic” actually stands for “actual or practical meaning” of what is said. In terms of everyday life this simply means that people having this condition do not understand some expressions or phrases of their native language or understand them wrongly.

What are these expressions and phrases which they tend to get wrong and why actually them and not any others?

The reason is they belong to the figurative or in other words non-literal part of  the language, so we do not treat and understand them word-by-word or literally but exactly metaphorically of figuratively. This is why they are also named figures of speech. 

People with semantic-pragmatic disorder struggle to identify and process those expressions and phrases as metaphors and tend to understand them as they go, comprehending them literally, which simply means they make mistakes.

We are not going to analyse here the reasons underlying this condition. Instead we will focus on the linguistic structure of figures of speech which cause difficulty for those with this specific type of Speech and Language Impairment (SLI).

So, here is the way it works or doesn’t work. The whole language can be divided into two parts of sections: the regular and the irregular one. Because the term “regular” seems to be a bit confusing, let us call them: figurative and literal.

Every single, tiny bit of the language belongs to one of those two. There is nothing in between. Even the smallest word bears the characteristics of only one of them. Once such a word, phrase or expression is a simple mathematical sum of all its elements, it will always have the  literal meaning and be understood as it goes – piece by piece:

CAR + S/SIGN+S = TWO OR MORE OF THE KIND BEFORE THE ‘S’

UN + ABLE/DIS+AGREE/IN+ACTIVE = NOT + WHATEVER THE SECOND ELEMENT SAYS

EMPLOY+ER/ACT+OR = THE ONE DOING WHAT THE FIRST PART OF THE WORD TELLS YOU

The same apply for phrases and expressions:

I AM A STUDENT. THEY WENT TO THE CINEMA. CHILDREN LIKE PLAYING HERE.

The “irregular” or “figurative” part of the language creates and conveys the meaning that IS NOT A MATHEMATICAL SUM OF THE PIECES MAKING UP A WORD OR A PHRASE:

DRAGONFLY is not a fly nor a dragon.

DRYASDUST has nothing to do with dryness nor dust.

WORKMANSHIP is not a labourer’s vessel.

Figures of speech also known as idioms work exactly the same way: in their case 1+1=3 and 2+2=5. This is namely why people affected with semantic-pragmatic disorder find it so difficult to get by with them. In case of natural language logics simply fail.

Here are some examples of figures of speech put together by a group of young people with speech, language and communication difficulties.

They identified them as hard to understand as many children with SLCN expect sentences to mean what they say!

  • We must get to the bottom of this.
  • I am in the dog house.
  • You are getting on my nerves.
  • That rings a bell.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Come on, spit it out!
  • Get a move on!
  • Don’t spill the beans!
  • Don’t waste your breath!
  • Don’t hang around!
  • Put your back into it!
  • Two heads are better than one!
  • I’ve a trick up my sleeve.
  • As flat as a pancake.
  • Hard cheese!
  • The tip of the iceberg.
  • Walls have ears.
  • As tough as old boots.
  • Give me a break!
  • You took the words right out of my mouth.