Social skills training for children and adolescents can be difficult as generalisation often occurs outside of the home. This requires going out and practicing with a number of unfamiliar people which can be difficult to orchestrate. Pragmatics is concerned with the use of language in social context and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meaning through language. One of the best places to practice pragmatic or social skills is at the shops. It can be done in a number of ways and for a range of social skills.
Here are a few pragmatics activities that you can practice at a shopping centre:
A shopping centre is a great place to practice greeting, as there are hundreds of stores and new people to greet. A good ay to integrate this into a functional day out is to choose the shops that you require something from and instruct the child to ensure that they greet each person that they come across, encourage them to use a range of greetings and responses such as ‘Hey how are you going?’ or ‘hi, how are you?’. Give prompting if required and instruct on how to respond to ‘How are you” in a range of ways prior to the encounter to increase the naturalness of the encounter. While you are there it can be helpful to work on who it is appropriate to say goodbye to, e.g. if the sales assistant is next to you when you leave it may be appropriate however if they are far away there is no need to walk to them or shout from across the store.
Asking appropriate questions
If you have selected stores that you require items from as stated in the previous activity, this goal can be done in a more functional way. For example if you need sunscreen you can ask you child “What did we come to this store for?” Once you have worked out what you need as them what an appropriate question might be to ask a sales assistant. The most obvious would be “where can I find the sunscreen”. You can elaborate on this by asking them what other questions they could ask and prompt for appropriate questions regarding the item they are enquiring about such as “Which sunscreen is the best one?”.
Pragmatics involve three major communication skills
- Using language for different purposes, such as greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye).
- Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as talking differently to a baby than to an adult.
- Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as taking turns in conversation and staying on topic.
It is not unusual for children to have pragmatic problems in only a few situations. However, if problems in social language use occur often and seem inappropriate considering the child’s age, a pragmatic disorder may exist.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have questions about language activities, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.
For more information about difficulties with communication click here.