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Creating Conversation Scripts to Enhance Pragmatic Skills 

What is Pragmatics?  

Pragmatics are the social skills and rules of social language that play a part in a child’s overall communication. Children must understand the rules and purposes of communication to use language appropriately in social situations. These skills include planning what we say, how we say it, and non-verbal communication including eye contact, body language, and facial expressions. Pragmatic skills are a vital part of a child’s ability to express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas.

Who may be at risk for pragmatic difficulties? 

Children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder may have greater difficulty with areas of pragmatics that may impact their social interactions. Children with receptive and expressive language disorder may also present with deficits in pragmatic skills. 

What should I look for? 

Some children may have difficulties with different areas of pragmatics including:  

  • eye contact 
  •  turn-taking 
  • establishing a conversational topic 
  • maintaining a conversational topic  
  • asking appropriate questions 
  • body language  

How can we help? 

  • Provide visual supports such as pictures to cue “my turn” or “your turn” and “comment” or “question”.  

This is a helpful tool to provide visual support for taking turns in conversation. 

  • Provide role-playing situations to allow children to practice appropriate conversational skills.  
  • Create conversational scripts and social stories that can be used to teach kids skills in the areas they have deficits.  
  • Social story 

Visual from 

  • “Social Story Creator” can be found on the App Store on your phone. This allows you to quickly create social stories that can be quickly pulled up on your phone. 
  • Allow children to watch videos demonstrating appropriate and inappropriate pragmatic skills and discuss. 
  • Discuss body language, appropriate comments, and inappropriate comments. 

Taylor Waddell, Speech- Language Pathologist, Chattanooga, TN