Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Semantic/Pragmatic Language Disorders

Many children with AD/HD, Asperger's, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Non-Verbal LD, Bipolar, etc. have co-occurring Semantic/Pragmatic Language Disorders. If you have a child who is having difficulty with social skills, social language, making and keeping friends, understanding jokes and teasing, understanding social cues, understanding common idioms and expressions used in language, using inappropriate language with peers and teachers, have the school system evaluate through a comprehensive Speech/Language assessment for a Semantic/Pragmatic Language Disorder. Make your request in writing, ask for both formal and informal tests, and ask that the evaluation be comprehensive.

These children take everything literally. They do not understand when you are joking or teasing, and can become very defensive, or clueless. Everything is black and white to them and very concrete.

Here are some links and suggestions for testing below.

Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

Social Communication Tests

Pragmatics Eligibility

What is Semantic-pragmatic Disorder?

Semantic and Pragmatic Difficulties

Conversational characteristics of children with semantic-pragmatic disorder.


Pragmatics, Socially Speaking

Pragmatic Language Tips

Questioning the validity of the semantic-pragmatic syndrome diagnosis

The Social Thinking Philosophy

Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

Semantic-Pragmatic Difficulties

Can Social Pragmatic Skills Be Tested?

Social Pragmatic Language Disorder

Additional Note:
I had a client get an excellent Semantic/Pragmatic evaluation from their school system. The SLP (Speech/Language Therapist)administered the following Formal tests:
CASL (Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language) - the entire test was administered to show child's strengths and weaknesses,
TLC (Test of Language Competence Expanded Edition),
The Listening Test, TOPS (Test of Problem Solving),

Informal Tests - She also did three informal functional pragmatic language assessments.

First -
She read this child two stories to see if he could meaning out of these stories. Keep in mind this is very smart 10 year old with excellent verbal skills who has AD/HD and possible Aspergers. She read him the "The First Snow" by David Christiana and it was chosen for its abstract content. The 2nd book was "The Enormous Crocodile" by Ronald Dahl. This book is also fiction but less abstract than the first book requiring much less inferential knowledge. This child had extreme difficulty with the first book and understanding the meaning of the story, he didn't get it. 2nd book, he had no problems.

Second -
Peer Interaction - Barrier Game
The initial activity with this child and a peer was a barrier game in which they were each given a variety of objects, blocks, and shapes of multiple colors. Each child had the exact same objects and colors then a barrier was placed between them. The tasks was for Child A to first build a structure using the blocks and objects and describe his structure in such a way that Child B was able to build the same exact structure. The second task was for Child A to listen to Child B describe how to build the structure and again have the same structure when completed. Throughout this task it is both Child A and Child B's responsibility to ensure that communication is occurring in such a manner that they are successful in their buildings. Only verbal communication can be used with no use of hand gestures. Repair of breakdown of communication must also be verbal. This exercise can be used to show how difficult it is for a child with Pragmatic language issues to communicate successfully with his peers.

Third -
Child A and Child B were asked to learn three things about each other that they could report back to the therapist. The therapist left the table and went to her desk as a way of requiring the two to communicate without external assistance.

Not only did this therapist give us the test results of all the Formal and Informal tests, she provided clear examples of this child's extreme pragmatic language deficits by giving us the questions and some of his "unusual and inappropriate" responses from each of these tests. This helped the parents (and teachers) understand how this disorder is affecting this child.

A SLP can also administer the TOPL (Test of Pragmatic Language), and there are Informal Pragmatic Language Rating Scales that can be given to teachers and parents to fill out.

So make suggestions of tests to be used, and ask for a very comprehensive evaluation!