Better Speech and Hearing Month: Social Language

TBIDid you know that May is Better Speech and Hearing Month? This campaign, headed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is designed to increase public awareness about communication disorders and what services are available to help. In support of this campaign, we’re focusing our blogs for the month of May on the different services that speech-language pathologists offer and how they help people with communication disorders. Today we’ll focus on an aspect of communication that is often overlooked: social language.

We usually think of language as the sounds and words that we speak or write. However, the way we use language and tailor it to different situations and people is also an essential communication skill. The ability to use language in social situations (also known as pragmatics) 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, for some people, social language is a skill that requires active work. This can be because of a developmental disorder, like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or a neurological injury like stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). In some cases, the cause of social language problems is unknown.

Social language skills can be developed and strengthened with the help of a professional speech-language pathologist. Speech therapists can help people learn social language skills such as maintaining and changing a topic, conversational turn-taking, and reading your listener’s body language and facial expressions. Social language can also include non-verbal communication such as eye contact and how close you stand to someone during a conversation.


During an evaluation, a speech-language pathologist will identify what aspects of social language a person is having the most difficulty with, and help increase the person’s awareness of the issue. Over the course of therapy, the speech pathologist can design exercises to explicitly teach aspects of social communication, and use activities like role-playing or social games to put these skills into use.


If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.


© 2016, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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