Comparing Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder

In order to obtain proper treatment and therapy for a developmental disorder, it is important to first get an accurate diagnosis and understanding of the presenting concerns. Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder has many overlapping symptoms to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but the two conditions are different and considered distinct from each other. Here is what you need to know about the differences between these two conditions.

What is Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder?  

When the American Psychiatric Association updated its definitions of ASD in 2013, they decided to define certain symptoms under the diagnosis of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. This disorder is characterized by difficulty using communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. These skills may include taking turns speaking during a conversation, using non-verbal signals, or using non-literal expressions such as metaphors. 

Individuals who have Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder may also have trouble speaking appropriately in different social contexts, such as altering their voice tone or language style when engaging with different people in different settings. Without treatment, people who have Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder may find that they face significant challenges in their personal relationships, social interactions, and academic or career settings. 

How does Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder differ from Autism Spectrum Disorder?  

Individuals who have ASD often have some of the same difficulties with social interactions as individuals who have Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder. Individuals who have Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder, however, do not present with the same symptoms of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or motor movements that are common to an ASD diagnosis. As a result, before a diagnosis of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder can be reached, it must be considered whether the individual also displays symptoms that are unique to ASD.  

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