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.

Dive deeper

About the author

About the author

Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Kelli Johnson, MA is an educational speech-language pathologist, working with students from early childhood through 12th grade.