I don’t know what’s wrong but my son doesn’t know how to socialize properly? Submitted by V Southard

On the way home from an event in the car with another teacher, we were discussing the needs of her son.  her son is in special education for ADHD, but she knows there is much more she says.  I just don’t know how to get help.  After discussing things for a little while, we came up with an understanding that he doesn’t truly know how to hold a conversation with others properly.  She was unaware that this is considered a speech concern under the area of pragmatics.  Many times students with Asperbers, Autism or other behavioral concerns struggle in this area and if undiagnosed they do not receive the speech services needed.  In this post I will discuss how to tell if pragmatics may be an issue for your child and how to go about having them evaluated.


What are the signs of social skill (pragmatic) speech issues?

1.  No eye contact

2.  struggles with taking turns in conversation

3.  Off topic

4. Lack of understanding for how to introduce or change topics 

5. Lack of understanding how to rephrase when misunderstood

6. Doesn’t understand verbal and nonverbal social cues

7. Inappropriate proximity (closeness) to partner in conversation

8. Inappropriate facial expressions

9. Inappropriate tone (we speak differently to a baby than an adult or peer)

10.  Lack of appropriate volume control

11. Inappropriate use of conversation from playground to classroom

12. tell stories in disorganized way

13. have low variety of language use

Note:  Rules are different for different cultures and should be considered.

When looking at the above pragmatic concern areas it is important to note that children may have pragmatic difficulties in a few situations and that would not be unusual.  What is unusual is when a child has pragmatic issues that occur often and are inappropriate for their age. Many times these kids will struggle with making and keeping friends because others will avoid them.  It is frustrating to communicate with someone who has these difficulties. It goes the same way that the child may choose to keep to themselves and not attempt to make friends because it is too difficult.  They don’t know how to express themselves well and feel very misunderstood.  They are often frustrated by this. 

As a special education teacher, I am not an expert in regards to speech, but have worked with speech therapist for a long period of time. 

Now that I do believe my child is struggling what do I do? Call for a meeting

In the case of the parent I was working with, we conversed about a number of the above topics.  The parent was unaware that this was a speech issue.  She said, “He can talk fine.”  This is because most people see speech as an articulation issue or stuttering, something of this sort.  Not true.  Pragmatics is just as important and is essential to a child’s well-being.  It is important for them to be able to express themselves, be understood and receive communication appropriately. 

We continued and I discussed with her that she needed to call for a Multidisciplinary Education Team Meeting.  In some states this is called an IEP meeting or an ARD meeting.  When doing this you can submit your request in person, email, phone, or in writing.  If there is concern with follow through at your school then you may want to request in writing.  After the request is made, the school has 10 days to hold a meeting with you to address the concern.  Before submitting this, write down what areas you are concerned about, collect specific examples to have ready to share, and talk to the teacher asking them questions about those things and if they have seen any of the things you see.  Ask them to give you examples.  If they haven’t seen it, then ask them to be watchful between then and the meeting.  A speech therapist should be at this meeting as they are the expert and essential to the success of the meeting.

What will happen at the meeting?

In the meeting, which should include the regular education teacher, other teachers working with the child, an administrative representative (person with approval for monetary decisions), speech therapist, and parent.  Anything done here is a team decision. You should carry your specific examples of concerns in the area of pragmatics.  Share those specifics.  Ask questions about what you do not understand.  Be flexible. 

Trust the speech therapist.  For the most part they are on your side and want what is best for the child.  They are the expert so try to listen and work with them.  If they choose to request an evaluation, they may advise doing more or less to address the concerns or even a different route to addressing the concerns.  In some states and with some areas of need it is important that you receive a medical diagnosis.  This does not give them the excuse to send you to the doctor for evaluation.  The school can do the proper testing they see needed and then if needed you can take that documentation to the doctor and the doctor refer you or make the proper diagnosis from those results provided to him.  In some cases, you may choose to go to your doctor first and use insurance.  This is up to you and sometimes parents feel this is easier.  You should not feel pushed to this. 

In the case above, I attended the parents meeting and the parent did not know how to clearly describe what they were experiencing.  This is why you should write examples down.  Fortunately, I attended and was able to ask questions of them and the teacher to dig out what was being experienced.  As a result, the meeting which was leaning in the direction of no assessment, led to a full evaluation and assessment for other concerns that had not been addressed as well.  The lesson is to be prepared and not intimidated by the number of people attending the meeting.

He was assessed and qualified now what?

The speech therapist will design a plan which will include individual and/or group therapy.  This may include social coaching and social skills training where they can practice skills in a safe environment.  The speech therapist is the expert and will know the proper way to address concerns.  They usually will provide you with things to work with your child on as well and make sure you follow through.  This is what provides the best results.  Daily practice leads you to the quickest success.

In some cases, they may refer you for more testing or to the doctor for concerns that need to be diagnosed by a doctor.  This is to help you get more services that may be available through your state programs for students with more severe concerns.  This guidance is in the best interest of your child. 

You have rights and it is important to know them. If you need help or questions answered please feel free to email me.  I am available for services to attend meetings to aid in the process or to help you be prepared with what to share to advocate for your child.  If you found this helpful and you have success as a result of this post, please email me or post a comment.  I always enjoy and appreciate feedback.


2 Responses to “I don’t know what’s wrong but my son doesn’t know how to socialize properly? Submitted by V Southard”

  1. 1 Julie July 31, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Hi My son has speech delay. I just saw a paediatric consultant at Princess Margaret Hospital, who has seen Joel once before and has just used the words pragmatic speech and and socialisation for Joel. I was just wondering where you are located. I have always wondered about finding or starting a support group which could develop friendships for Joel who is 7. Up to date he has never brought anyone home from school. If you are not in Australia could you please refer me on to someone or a network who maybe able to help. Thanking You Julie Apletree for Joel Hayden-Wells (my son).

  2. 2 Παιχνίδι Ιδιωτικός Ντετέκτιβ 2 - 123 Paixnidia August 18, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i
    could assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let
    me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email: everyonecanlearn@ymail.com

Donate to American Heart Association

My son is raising money for the American Heart Association. Show your support by giving to the link above!

%d bloggers like this: