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135. Having Language vs Using Language. There is a Difference.

podcast May 04, 2023

As parents raising autistic children we are all likely very familiar with the challenges that come with language development for our children. 

Language is a system of communication that involves words, and grammar, and it allows us to express what we are thinking and feeling, share our thoughts, and connect with others.

However, just because someone has language, it doesn't mean they can use it functionally. For instance, some individuals on the spectrum might have an extensive vocabulary and be able to recite facts, but they may struggle with using language in social situations.

Having language means that a child has learned words and can use them to express themselves. However, being able to use language functionally means that a child can use their language to communicate effectively and appropriately in social situations. It's important to note that these two things are not always the same. Some children may have a large vocabulary but struggle to use their language in a meaningful way in social situations.

Many of our kids might develop language skills at a similar rate to their neurotypical peers but they struggle with the functional use of language in social situations, which is known as pragmatic language.  Pragmatic language refers to the social use of language, including the ability to understand and use nonverbal cues, take turns in conversation, and understand the underlying meaning behind what is being said.

In this episode, I talk about what to look for as well as what you need to have when you are ready to sit down and collaborate with your child's team to discuss interventions.

Having language is not enough. Children with autism need to develop functional language skills, particularly in the area of pragmatic language. Successful use of pragmatic language involves understanding social cues, adjusting language depending on the situation, taking turns in conversations, understanding figurative language, and using language to build relationships.

By focusing on developing our children's pragmatic language skills, we can help them communicate effectively and appropriately in social situations, leading to greater success in all areas of their life.

Additional Resources:

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