Diagnosis Destinations  Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder

What is Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder?

"Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder was originally defined in the literature on Language Disorder in 1983, by Rapin and Allen, although at that time it was classified as a syndrome. They referred to a group of children who presented with mild Autistic features and specific semantic pragmatic language problems.

In babyhood, parents often described them as model babies or by contrast babies who seemed to cry too much. Many of these children babbled little or very late and went on using 'jargon' speech much longer than other children of the same age. Their first words were late and learning language was a hard slog. Some had other speech disorders too. Problems were usually first identified between 18 months and 2 years when the child had few if any real words.

Many parents wondered if their children were deaf at first because they did not appear to respond to speech. Assessment found that most children had good hearing, although some did have otitis media and had tubes fitted to ensure maximum hearing.

Semantic-Pragmatic Disordered children have many more problems than just speaking and understanding words, so it is called a communication disorder rather than a language disorder. We think that the difficulty for children with S.P.D. may be in the way they process information. Children with S.P.D. find it more difficult to extract the central meaning or the saliency of an event. They tend to focus on detail instead; for example the sort of child who finds the duck hidden in the picture but fails to grasp the situation or story in the picture or the child who points out the spot on your face before saying 'hello'. "

From a paper prepared by Heathlands Language Unit staff for parents and teachers involved in the care of children with Semantic-Pragmatic Difficulties)

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