What is social communication disorder?

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Kelli Johnson, MA

At a glance

  • Social communication disorder (SCD) impacts conversation.

  • It’s not a problem with speech.

  • People with SCD are as smart as anyone else.

Social communication disorder (SCD) is a condition that makes it hard to talk with other people. It’s not a problem with speech. It’s also not a problem with the mechanics of language, like pronouncing words and using grammar. 

SCD impacts a specific area of language called pragmatics. This is the use of language in social interactions. 

People with SCD have trouble following the “rules” of spoken communication. They may take over conversations and interrupt a lot. Some say things that are off-topic. Others hesitate to talk at all.

These challenges make it hard to connect with people — at school, on the job, or in social settings. And that can take a toll on self-esteem.

SCD is a lifelong condition. But there are ways to improve skills in kids and adults.

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