Pragmatic Language: Feelings

What is pragmatic language?  Pragmatic language is another term for social language.  This includes the verbal and non-verbal communication that we use to interact with other people.  Non-verbal communication can include eye contact, facial expressions, body language, body positioning, etc.  Other parts of pragmatic language may include staying on topic, adjusting our style of speaking based on the listener (we talk differently to small children and adults), and showing interest in what other people want to talk about. 

Social skills are needed to communicate with others, manage behavior, and form relationships with peers and adults. Poor social skills are common in children with learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, and autism. “Pragmatic Language” is how a person uses language socially. SLP’s can assess and treat pragmatic language to improve social skills, executive functioning, and independence.

Our facial expressions can tell us a great deal about feelings.  Children with pragmatic language disorder or autism may experience difficulty with noticing, interpreting, and processing both facial expressions and feelings.  They may need to memorize these through social stories, video rehearsal, and/or direct instruction. 


Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses by James Dean is a fun book that has a storyline that involves feelings.  Here is a reading that adds in some basic instruction about facial expression. 


Here is some more information on what to expect for pragmatic language at each age and when you might want to refer for evaluation and treatment.


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