Social Communication Disorders


What is a Social Communication Disorder?

Social communication disorder (SCD) is characterized by difficulties with the use of verbal and nonverbal language for social purposes. Early symptoms of SCD can show in young children but often is not recognized until later, and adults can still be diagnosed with SCD. SCD can impact all areas of life including social, work, and school life. It can make it difficult to maintain or grow relationships, and can cause friction with peers at work and school due to misunderstandings.

Social communication difficulties are often a symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Even high functioning individuals with ASD have social communication difficulties that can still impact the quality and longevity of friendships, work relationships, and romantic relationships.

How to Recognize Social Communication Disorder

Those affected by SCD may find it difficult to to communicate in socially appropriate ways. This includes difficulties in changing communication style to match the context or needs of the listener, following rules of conversations and story telling, understanding non-literate or ambiguous language (such as sarcasm), and understanding what is not explicitly stated. It can be diagnosed on its own or can co-occur with other conditions, such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and language disorder.


Treatment strategies are individualized and often involves creating goals and addressing them with clients. There are a variety of approaches and strategies. Particular strategies may not be appropriate for everyone, and strategies can change over time to suit needs.

Treatments is tailored to each individual, and aims to improve the intelligibility and comprehensibility of those affected. Therapy may include regular and frequent one-on-one therapy sessions with speech language pathologists, and group settings where clients can practice communication skills in realistic scenarios.