Speech, Language and Pragmatics

vertical2vertical1vertical2What is speech therapy for and why is it so common to see speech and language services suggested?

Speech refers to the production of speech sounds. For example, if your child has difficulty with the ‘s’ sound, it is a speech issue. Your child might substitute another sound for ‘s’, or lisp, or just ignore its existence altogether.

Language on the other hand, is how we put words together to convey ideas. Language delays can range from relatively simple (such as confusing he-she) to much more complex (such as understanding idioms, or making an inference).

Speech and Language are categorized as expressive and/or receptive, in other words the ability to say and the ability to understand.

There is a speech and/or language delay when common milestones for a given age have not been met.

Now we get to the really fun category, pragmatics. Pragmatic language refers to how language is used socially. One could say it’s a form of language. If I think your haircut is terrible, I wouldn’t say ‘Geez, what made you do that?!’ If I want to join a conversation, there are rules of engagement to follow. If I want to tell my friend I got an A+ on test that they bombed, there is a way to do it. These are hidden rules of interaction. Navigating pragmatics is hardly ever taught. We’re expected to intuitively ‘get it’, and when we don’t there is often a social communication deficit. Many kids and adults struggle with this to varying degrees.

I use video, role-playing and games to demonstrate how context and thinking about others provides a key to understanding these hidden rules. This is one of my favorite areas to work in, from preschool through adulthood. I employ Social Thinking, which is a therapy devised by Michelle Garcia Winner for social communication.


 Monica Speech Therapy • monicaplace.com • 917-881-8173