What is Pragmatic speech?
Definition: Pragmatic speech is language used to communicate and socialize. It involves three major areas.
- Using language for a variety of functions such as: greeting (i.e. hello, goodbye), requesting (i.e. I would like a book), demanding (i.e. give me a book), and informing (i.e. this book is about a dog).
- Changing Language: This aspect of pragmatics involves changing what you say or are going to say based on the needs of the listener/ or conversation partner. Examples include– speaking differently to an adult than you would to a child, telling background information to a unfamiliar listener, and speaking differently to your boss than you would to your friend.
- Following rules: talking turns during conversation, listening when the other person is speaking, commenting appropriately, rephrasing when misunderstood, using facial expressions and eye contact, staying on topic, and ending a conversation when necessary
Some children whether they have the ability to talk may benefit from therapy focused on pragmatic speech.
Since difficulty with social communication is a characteristic of autism spectrum disorders, many children with an autism spectrum disorders diagnosis will need some level of pragmatic speech therapy. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, people with pragmatic speech issues may:
- say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations
- tell stories in a disorganized way
- have little variety in language use
- Pragmatic speech therapy is offered by speech therapists. It is appropriate for children, but may be equally appropriate for teens and adults.
How can a Speech-Language Pathologist help my child?
There are many ways a SLP can help your child learn how to use language in a more social and appropriate manner. Some options include:
- Role playing: Pretending to talk to different people in different situations. For instance, set up a situation as if you were in a restaurant and have each person take a role. The child can be the person ordering while the SLP can act as the waitress. In this situation, the child will use a variety of appropriate language functions to order his/her food. In addition, the SLP will model how your child should talk to the other conversation partner (i.e. the waitress) in order to get the point across.
- Encouraging the use of persuasion: For instance, asking the person what he/she would do in order to convince a friend, family member, or other loved ones to let him/her do something. Discussing different ways to ask such as: polite (saying please, thank you), direct language (shut the window) vs. direct language (It’s cold in here), discussing why some requests may be more persuasive then others.
- Helping with conversation and story-telling skills: commenting on a topic (i.e. adding related information to encourage talking more about a particular topic), providing visual cues (i.e. pictures, objects, or graphs to tell the story in a sequence), encouraging rephrasing (i.e. “What do you mean? ”,“Can you explain that again?”), and show the importance of non-verbal signs (i.e. contact, gestures, and facial expression).
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Social Language Use (Pragmatics). (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2015, from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Pragmatics/