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What Is Pragmatic Speech


Updated June 10, 2014

Definition: Pragmatic speech is language used to communicate and socialize.

Most people think of speech therapy as a tool for improving pronunciation, reducing stutters, or simply building the ability to use words at all. Many people with autism do have the ability to talk, and some talk a great deal, but almost all can benefit from therapy focused on speech pragmatics.

Since difficulty with social communication is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorders, literally everyone with an autism diagnosis will need some level of pragmatic speech therapy. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, people with pragmatic speech issues may:

  • say inappropriate or unrelated things during conversations
  • tell stories in a disorganized way
  • have little variety in language use
Pragmatic speech therapy is offered by speech therapists and, sometimes, by social skills therapists and coaches. It is appropriate for children, but may be equally appropriate for teens and adults.


Social Language Use (Pragmatics) article in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. 1997-2008 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Also Known As: Speech pragmatics, social language use
My social skills coach is helping me to improve my pragmatic speech.
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