Social Communication Disorder in Adults


ICD-10 Code: F80.82

Social (pragmatic) communication disorder is part of a cluster of diagnoses called communication disorders. Communication disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Language Disorder
  • Speech Sound Disorder
  • Childhood-onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering)
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder

A communication disorder is an impairment in the processes of speech, language or communication. Speech is the expressive production of sounds and includes an individual’s articulation, fluency, voice and resonance quality. Language includes the form, function, and use of a convention system of symbols (i.e., spoken words, written words, sign language, pictures) in a rule-governed manner for communication. Communication includes any verbal or nonverbal behavior that influences the behavior, ideas, or attitudes of another individual. A child with a communication problem may exhibit many different symptoms. These may include difficulty following directions, attending to a conversation, pronouncing words, perceiving what was said, expressing oneself, or being understood because of a stutter or a hoarse voice. An assessment of speech, language and communication abilities must take into account the individual’s cultural and language context, particularly for individuals growing up in bilingual environments.  

What is Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder?

Social (pragmatic) communication disorder was recognized as a disorder by the DSM-5 in 2013. Since it is a relatively new disorder, the prevalence of adults with social communication disorder is unknown.

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Understanding Social Communication Disorder

Having social (pragmatic) communication disorder can affect an individual’s occupational and academic progress. Children with this disorder may have trouble making inferences and understanding social subtleties. This can cause them to lag behind in developing reading and writing skills.

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How is social communication disorder treated?

Social (pragmatic) communication disorder is treatable. There are no evidence-based intervention recommendations for the adult population. However, there are intervention recommendations for social communication disorder in children and adolescents as outlined in the American Speech and Language Association.

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