Pragmatics refers to the appropriate use of language in social situations. There are many children who have age appropriate vocabulary and are able to speak in full sentences that are clearly articulated, however, they may still present with difficulty in using language appropriately in various social situations. These children may unintentionally make inappropriate or rude comments. They may not understand contextual and non verbal cues and in turn may embarrass their parents. Adults may also have difficulty with pragmatics as a result of a brain injury or stroke.

An individual with pragmatic problems may:

  • Make inappropriate comments in conversations.
  • Face difficulty initiating, maintaining and ending a conversation appropriately.
  • Make abrupt topic shifts.
  • Present difficulty with changing language for different situations and listeners.
  • Narrate about events and a topic in a disorganized way.
  • Have little variety in language use.
  • Demonstrate difficulty in understanding other’s perspective.


Manav, a 9 year old walks through the crowded school hallways; with his eyes on the floor. He never interacts with anyone. During the test, Manav clearly identified what a friend is and what friends do together, but he doesn't know how to get a friend.

Vinay, a 15 year old had difficulty in picking up conversational cues and would often interrupt conversations. He would often switch the conversation to topic of his interest and show lack of empathy for his listeners. He would become upset if this was pointed out and seemed unaware of his lack of contact with others.

Pragmatics Disorder can co-exist with language delay or disorder. Children and individuals with Pragmatics Disorder may find it difficult to make friends and have lower social acceptance. Remember, if problems in social language use occur often and seem inappropriate considering the child's age, a pragmatic disorder may exist.

Evaluation and Treatment:

At Let’s Talk Speech Therapy standardized Pragmatic Tests, Questionnaire and Parent or Family Interview are conducted to better understand individual’s social skills abilities. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Social Skills Programs, Role play, Imagery and other formal programs are incorporated during therapy to facilitate appropriate social skills.