Pragmatic Language Therapy

Pragmatic language therapy can be a tricky one since it involves A LOT of language and social skills including 

  • initiating/maintain/ending conversations
  • understanding/using facial expressions & body language
  • repairing communication breakdowns
  • using language for a variety of purposes

to name a few.

I'm here to discuss how I approach pragmatic language therapy in a way that makes sense to me!

Pragmatic Language Therapy 

I've always had some trouble with pragmatic therapy since it seems to involve A LOT of varied language and cognitive skills including:

  • expressive/receptive vocabulary
  • inferencing
  • attention
  • grammar
  • social awareness
  • visuospatial skills

Where do I start? Can a child have strong pragmatic language skills if they don't have the vocabulary for it?

That is why when I read the article Wilson, A. C., & Bishop, D. V. (2021). A novel online assessment of pragmatic and core language skills: An attempt to tease apart language domains in children. Journal of Child Language. from the Informed SLP, I felt heard.

Therapy Implications From The Research

I highly recommend that you read the article listed above. It looked at how language skills affect pragmatic language abilities for children who are NOT autistic.

The study showed:

  • Children with stronger language skills did better on the pragmatic language tasks
  • Children with developing language skills had more trouble on the pragmatic language tasks.

Therapy Implications for me:

  • Children who have developmental language disorders/delays AND pragmatic language deficits may benefit from strengthening needed language skills before or at the same time as you target pragmatic language.

Therapy Ideas

As you know, I always like to put what I learn into therapy right away!

While I have a lot of language therapy materials, I didn't' have a lot of pragmatic language therapy materials specifically for emotions and feelings. I work on vocabulary development, I might as well work on pragmatic language vocabulary!

To target this, I made vocabulary materials targeting emotions/feelings words in English and Spanish.


First things first....vocabulary!

We can multi-task here! We can't talk teach social skills/social language if we don't have the basic vocabulary down :).

Communication Boards

Sometimes, children don't have the expressive vocabulary quite yet. That's okay, you can always use a communication board to express feelings and emotions.

At speech therapy talk membership, I use the one below: 

Relate it!

It is essential to relate new vocabulary concepts to our personal lives and to words we already have in our lexicon. This will cement the learning and aid in future word retrieval.

To do this, I like to relate words to personal experiences (connect any background knowledge) and complete synonym/antonym tasks. 

I have some examples below from my membership site.

Access Pragmatic Language Therapy Materials

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