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Med Travelers - December 2019

Pragmatics and School Social Skills

October 27, 2003



I have a very good 7th grade student who is in speech for poor pragmatic skills but does well with all our body language and stay on topic activities to meet his goals but his personality just gives off an ill social effect. What is your advice as to pl


This is certainly one of our more difficult problems, isn't it? I wonder if you are working with this student in a pullout environment or in collaboration with his teacher and/or others right in his environment. I share your concerns about lack of overall effect from specific goals like body language and staying on topic. It is difficult to pinpoint specific goals that can affect overall pragmatic improvement. For these reasons, I might suggest using an approach that involves authentic assessment of the behaviors that seem to inhibit effective communication and interaction from the point of the view of those in his environment - teachers, family, siblings, and even peers if managed in a sensitive way. Can you observe him in these interactions, make notes about what you see, talk about the behaviors that put people off and what changes might be made right with those people, include them in the planning and monitoring of changes in his interactions?

Some references that might be helpful include:

Bernstein, D., Tiegerman-Farber, E., (2002) Language and communication disorders in children. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Hyter, Yvette D., Rogers-Adkinson, Diana L., Self, Trisha L., Simmons, Brande Friederich, Jantz, Jennifer, (2001). Pragmatic language intervention for children with language and emotional/behavioral disorders. Communication Disorders Quarterly 23. 4-16.

Nelson, N., (1998) Childhoodl language disorders in context Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Norris, J., (1995) Expanding Language Norms for School-Age Children and
Adolescents: Is It Pragmatic? Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. 26,

Pritchard Dodge, E. (1999) Survival Guide for school speech-language pathologists. San Diego: Singular Thompson Learning.

Ripich D., Creaghead, N. (1994) School discourse problems. San Diego: Singular Thompson Learning.

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Nancy Creaghead is Past President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is Professor and Head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati. Her teaching and research are in the area of child language development and disorders. She has been responsible for the development of outreach and distance learning programs for individuals working as speech therapists in the schools who need to obtain a master's degree. She has presented at numerous workshops and meetings at the local, state, national and international levels, including the 1978 through 2003 ASHA conventions, and is widely published. Dr. Creaghead is co-owner of a private practice, which provides speech-language services to children, primarily in Head Start and other preschool settings. She is a past president of the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has completed a three-year term as ASHA Vice President for Professional Practices in Speech-Language Pathology. She holds an M.S. from Purdue University and Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. She is an ASHA Fellow and has received Honors of the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

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