Autism Spectrum Disorders and Social Communication Difficulties

Social Communication Difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorders

We communicate for a reason. We use our words (language) and our non-verbal gestures to exchange our thoughts and feelings in a social interaction. Knowing the “social rules of engagement”: how to “turn-take” and “fit-in” in a social situation can be difficult for some people.

Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Social Communication difficulties may have trouble with one or all uses and forms of language. All children who have a diagnosis of ASD have some form of social communication difficulties. A child can have social communication difficulties, but not have a diagnosis of ASD.

Identifying social communication difficulties

Children with social communication difficulties may present with some or all of the following:

  1. May have no words and use minimal non-verbal language (e.g., limited gestures, minimal to no eye gaze, limited facial expressions).
  2. May have trouble paying attention to you or others. They may have difficulty following what you or others are interested in or may not follow where you point.
  3. May talk, but have difficulty using words to carry on a conversation. They may answer a question or initiate a request; however, they cannot tell a simple story or engage in a back-and-forth conversation.
  4. May rarely involve another person in play or interaction. They may demonstrate parallel play (playing side by side), but there is minimal or no involvement of an adult or peer.
  5. May pull someone’s hand or lead someone to indicate what they want.
  6. May have unconventional or limited interests.

Help for common social communication difficulties

While this may seem like a long list, be assured that these are common social communication difficulties and they can be improved upon with the right therapy.

At 1to1 Therapy, we take a team approach to Social Communication difficulties, focused on building effective interactions and exchanges. This includes consultations with a speech language pathologist, behavior therapist, psychologist or others to determine the person’s individual needs and priorities.

If you would like to learn more, please contact us to set up a consultation.

About the Author
Joanna Ticker is a speech-language pathologist with expertise in the area of preschool and school aged language development. She has led several adapted More Than Words programs (a Hanen program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and social communication difficulties). She is certified with Hanen’s More Than Words and Talkability and she is PROMPT trained.

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