Often we think of language as only the sounds, words, and messages that we speak or write. However, there’s another important aspect to language that we often overlook: the way we use language and tailor it to different situations and people. This is a skill known as “pragmatics”. The ability to use language in social situations, is often taken for granted because for the majority of people, it’s a skill that comes naturally. There are social rules for communication that most people pick up effortlessly as they develop language so that by adulthood, they’re second nature.
However, some children have difficulty developing pragmatic skills. Sometimes this is because of a disorder, such as Aspergers Syndrome, and other times, the cause is unknown. Although these issues can be difficult to overcome, pragmatic skills can be developed and strengthened with the help of a professional speech-language pathologist.
One basic part of pragmatics is language use. We change the way we speak and the language we use depending on what we are trying to accomplish with our speech. Think of the difference in how you would say good morning to your three-year-old niece, your best friend, and your boss. The ways in which we tailor our language to others are subtle, but obvious to most people. However, for those with pragmatic difficulties, these subtle changes can be extremely challenging. Pragmatics also involves the knowledge of and ability to follow the rules of language in social interaction. This covers a wide range of behaviors including turn taking, topic introduction and maintenance, repairing communication breakdowns, how close to stand to someone you’re talking to, and using and understanding non-verbal cues such as facial expression and eye contact.
A speech-language pathologist can help a person with pragmatic difficulties learn the rules of social language use, and put them into practice. The speech therapist will identify the aspects of conversation that are of most difficulty for the client, and tailor an individual therapy plan. using a range of techniques from direct instruction to role-playing and social games. With the assistance of a professional speech-language pathologist, a person with pragmatic issues can learn to successfully use the rules of conversation and greatly improve their communicative skills.
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!
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