Social Communication Disorder: 10 Ways to Support Your Loved One

If you have a loved one with social communication disorder, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and powerless to help. Fortunately, there are several ways to support your loved one and help them overcome their communication challenges.

In this blog post, we will explore...

  • the symptoms and causes of Social Communication Disorder,
  • coping with the emotional challenges of a diagnosis, and
  • 10 practical ways that you can support your loved one with SCD.
Let’s get right to it.
What is Social Communication Disorder

What is Social Communication Disorder?

Social Communication Disorder (SCD) is a neurological disorder that affects how individuals interpret and interact with others. People with SCD often have difficulty understanding the nuances of language, following the rules of conversation, and communicating their own thoughts and feelings. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, making it important to provide support for those affected by this disorder.

Common Symptoms of SCD

The symptoms of SCD vary depending on the individual and their age. Children with SCD may have difficulty making friends, understanding jokes, and interpreting facial expressions. They may also struggle to follow social rules and understand social cues.

Adults with SCD may have problems with job interviews, romantic relationships, and group conversations. Here are a few other common struggles they experience:

    • Difficulty building and maintaining social relationships, as they may have difficulty initiating conversations, understanding nonverbal communication, or responding appropriately to social contexts;
    • Feeling isolated or lonely due to their communication issues, avoiding social situations altogether;
    • Limited job opportunities, given that a lot of jobs require strong social competence, such as in sales or customer service;
    • Anxiety and depression, particularly if they feel misunderstood or isolated from others;
    • Struggle to advocate for themselves and their needs in social settings or in the workplace.

It is important to recognize that SCD symptoms can vary widely between individuals. Observing your loved one’s warning signs can be a daunting task, but it could help them get the help that they need as soon as possible. It is important to note any patterns in behavior that may indicate difficulty with pragmatic language or social-emotional reciprocity.

Coping With The Diagnosis

Coping With The Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis of SCD is a complex process that must be completed by a professional. It involves ruling out other possible conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or language impairment which may have similar features to SCD.

In order to receive an accurate diagnosis, it is important to seek the expertise of a qualified professional who can provide an appropriate assessment and evaluate their symptoms. With proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals with SCD can overcome their social communication difficulties and engage more fully in social interactions.

    • Understanding Your Loved One’s Social Communication Difficulties
By understanding more about SCD, you and your family can better understand how best to communicate with your loved one on a daily basis and help them reach their full potential. This could include attending therapy sessions with them or providing emotional support during difficult times.
    • Explaining Social Communication Difficulties to Your Loved One
It is important to provide them with accurate information while also being sensitive to their feelings and emotions. Start by explaining that SCD is a neurological condition that affects their ability to understand and interpret subtle social cues. Emphasize that these difficulties are not their fault but are due to the disorder itself. Reassure them that they are not alone in struggling with these issues and help them understand that it is possible to learn strategies for managing their social communication difficulties. Finally, make sure your loved one knows that there are resources available for support and guidance.
    • Understanding Their Feelings of Isolation or Frustration
In order to support someone with SCD, it is important to offer empathy and understanding for these feelings. It can be difficult for them to navigate relationships, leading to a sense of loneliness or inadequacy. Start by listening with an open heart and mind. Your loved one may need to express their frustrations and feelings of isolation, so it’s important that you provide a safe space for them to do so without passing judgement or offering unsolicited advice.

Practice active listening, or fully focusing on what they are saying and responding thoughtfully. This helps them feel understood and validated. It’s important to avoid interrupting or finishing their sentences, as this can be frustrating and make communication more difficult.

Additionally, try not to take any negative comments personally; this is likely a reflection of their own insecurities rather than how they truly feel about you.

    • Dealing with Challenging Behaviors Related to SCD
Establish healthy strategies to address these disruptive behaviors in order to help your loved one manage their SCD and cope with frustration. Letting them one know what behavior is acceptable and what is not ahead of time will better equip them with the tools they need to manage social interactions.

If needed, seek out professional help such as counseling or speech therapy. A speech-language pathologist can help your loved one develop their communication and language skills. They can also provide guidance on how to provide support at home.

10 Practical Ways to Support Your Loved One at Home

10 Practical Ways to Support Your Loved One at Home

1) Establish routines: Consistent routines for daily activities, such as mealtimes, bedtime, and other tasks, can be helpful in providing predictability and structure. This helps reduce anxiety and provides a sense of stability for them. Make sure to involve them in the process and create a visual schedule or checklist to help them understand the routine and feel more in control. Be flexible and adapt to changes in the routine, while still maintaining consistency.

2) Use technology: Using visual aids such as pictures, charts, or diagrams can help your loved one understand and remember information more easily. Communication tools such as electronic devices or text-to-speech software can also be helpful. Video calls can provide a way for your loved one to practice their conversation skills with family or friends who live far away.

3) Use mirrors: Mirrors can be a useful tool for strengthening their nonverbal communication skills. Encourage them to practice making different facial expressions and observing the subtle changes in their face. They can also practice different body language postures and observe how their body language communicates different emotions and intentions.

4) Role-play social situations: Practicing interactions in advance can help them understand social rules and be more confident in their social behavior once they actually experience the scenario in real life. For example, you can create a scenario where your loved one practices having a conversation with a colleague. Encourage them to make eye contact, use appropriate facial expressions, and use appropriate body language. You can also practice scenarios where they stand up for themselves to strengthen their skills in self-advocacy.

5) Avoid criticizing or blaming: This can make your loved one feel defensive or discouraged. Instead, provide positive feedback and encouragement. Focus on their strengths and progress. They may also need more time to process information and respond to questions, so give them the time they need and avoid rushing them.

6) Determine milestones and celebrate them: Set achievable goals and celebrate once they hit those goals to help them feel good about their achievements. Acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This can help your loved one feel motivated to continue practicing their social and pragmatic skills.

7) Use social scripts: Social scripts are pre-written conversations that they can use in social situations. Similar to role-playing, this can help them feel more prepared and confident when engaging in social interactions. You can also prepare scripts they can use when they need to speak up for themselves and communicate their needs to others. These scripts can help them better remember the rules for conversation and participate better during social interactions.

8) Organize social interactions: Encourage them to socialize with others by inviting them to events or introducing them to new people. Be patient and supportive as they navigate social situations and provide gentle guidance when needed. You can also let them join social skills groups so they can practice in a supportive environment. Look for groups in your community or consult with a speech-language pathologist in your area for recommendations.

9) Let them get feedback: During social gatherings, encourage them to ask for feedback from family members or trusted friends. They can ask others to observe their nonverbal signals during social interactions and provide constructive feedback on how they can improve.

10) Encourage self-reflection: Encourage your loved one to reflect on their social interactions and identify areas for improvement. They can practice writing their progress and insights in a journal. This can help them become more self-aware and further develop their social communication skills.

Social communication disorder can be a challenging condition to live with, but with the right support, individuals with SCD can develop their social skills and improve their quality of life. By encouraging social interactions, using visual aids or other communication tools, and seeking professional support, you can help your loved one thrive in social situations. Remember to be patient and celebrate their progress along the way.

If you need help with your loved one’s social communication development, get in touch with one of our licensed speech therapists to know more about how therapy can help.

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Lauren Templeton - Apheleia Speech Therapy
Lauren Templeton

Owner & Speech-Language Pathologist

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