Pragmatic disorders and social functioning: A lifespan perspective

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


As we pass through life stages, the demands and challenges of the social domain vary enormously. The infant must quickly establish social reciprocity with others in order to ensure he/she receives food and protection from harm. The child must use whatever social interaction skills are at his disposal in order to access the friendship networks which will sustain his cognitive, social and emotional development. The adolescent is at a critical point in the construction of identity, and social skills both contribute to, and are transformed by, this important milestone in personal development. The adult faces significant social challenges in the workplace, where high-level interpersonal skills are typically a prerequisite of employment. At the same time, new social roles emerge in adulthood in the form of parenthood and through wider societal participation. In advanced adulthood, there are social challenges in the form of reduced opportunities for interaction as one’s friendship network gradually declines. Also, the aging adult must address the adverse social implications of steadily diminishing physical and cognitive skills. The human life­span, it can be seen, places a range of social demands on the individual, each of which is unique, and all of which must be confronted. Each of these life stages in the social functioning of an individual is compromised by the presence of pragmatic disorders. This is on account of the fact that of all aspects of language, pragmatics is most closely affiliated with the communication processes upon which social relationships are constructed and maintained. This chapter takes a lifespan perspective in examining the contribution of pragmatic disorders to impairments of social functioning. This contribution varies not only with different life stages but also with different clinical disorders. The child with an autism spectrum disorder may not be successful in forging the social relationships which are the basis of friendship networks, while the adult who sustains a traumatic brain injury may experience isolation through a progressive loss of social relationships. Pragmatic disorders, which are a prominent clinical feature of clients with both these disorders, will have different social consequences in each of these scenarios. The discussion considers the factors which exacerbate and mitigate the social consequences of pragmatic disorders at different stages in the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


  • Aphasia
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Dementia
  • Genetic syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pragmatic disorder
  • Right hemisphere damage
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social functioning
  • Specific language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


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