Social Communication Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Learn about social communication disorders in children and adults, including symptoms, causes, and treatment options like EMDR therapy and neurofeedback.

Social Communication Disorder (SCD) is a relatively new diagnosis that affects the way people communicate and interact with others. SCD is characterized by difficulty using and interpreting verbal and nonverbal communication, which can lead to social and emotional challenges. In this blog, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for SCD in both children and adults.

What is Social Communication Disorder?

Social Communication Disorder (SCD) is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to effectively communicate and interact with others in social situations. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically emerges in early childhood, often in conjunction with other developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Individuals with SCD may struggle with using and understanding nonverbal cues, taking turns in conversation, staying on topic, and adjusting communication style based on the social situation. This can lead to difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, as well as academic and occupational challenges.

Symptoms of Social Communication Disorder

Individuals with social communication disorder (SCD) may exhibit a variety of symptoms. The symptoms can vary widely depending on the individual’s age, communication skills, and environment. Some common symptoms of SCD include difficulty with nonverbal communication, trouble understanding social cues, difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations, trouble interpreting figurative language and sarcasm, and difficulty making and keeping friends.

In younger children, some symptoms may include delayed development of language, trouble engaging in pretend play, difficulty following social norms and rules, and a lack of interest in peer interactions. Children with SCD may also struggle with taking turns in conversations and may interrupt others frequently. They may have trouble expressing themselves and often use simple sentences. They may also misunderstand the meaning of others’ words or gestures, leading to confusion or miscommunication.

In older children and adults, the symptoms of SCD may be more subtle. They may have difficulty understanding non-literal language, such as idioms and metaphors. May struggle with initiating conversations and may have difficulty understanding when to stop talking. They may also have difficulty with making inferences or understanding abstract concepts. Individuals with SCD may have trouble with making eye contact, interpreting tone of voice, or using facial expressions appropriately.

Overall, social communication disorder can lead to significant challenges in social interactions and communication. Individuals with SCD may experience difficulty in both personal and professional relationships, as well as in academic and work settings. It can impact self-esteem and cause feelings of isolation, frustration, and anxiety.

Causes of Social Communication Disorder

The exact cause of social communication disorder is not yet clear, but research suggests that it may be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some studies have found that individuals with a family history of language or communication disorders may be more likely to develop social communication disorder. Additionally, exposure to certain environmental factors such as toxins or infections during pregnancy or early childhood may also increase the risk of developing social communication disorder.

social communication disorder

Neurological factors may also play a role in the development of social communication disorder. Studies have found that individuals with social communication disorder may have differences in brain structure or function compared to individuals without the disorder. Specifically, these differences may be related to the areas of the brain responsible for language processing, social cognition, and emotion regulation.

It is also possible that social communication disorder may be caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental factors, or by other unknown factors that have not yet been identified. Further research is needed to better understand the underlying causes of social communication disorder.

Diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder

Diagnosing social communication disorder involves a thorough assessment of a person’s communication skills and behaviors. The process usually begins with a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed mental health professional or a speech-language pathologist. During the evaluation, the professional will examine the person’s communication skills, social interactions, and behavior patterns, and may also review the person’s medical and developmental history.

The assessment may involve direct observation of the person’s communication and social interactions, as well as the administration of standardized tests and questionnaires. The professional may also gather information from family members, teachers, or other caregivers who are familiar with the person’s communication and behavior patterns.

In order to receive a diagnosis of social communication disorder, the person must meet specific criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). These criteria include persistent difficulties in social communication and social interaction, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

It is important to note that a diagnosis of a social communication disorder may also involve ruling out other possible conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A thorough and accurate diagnosis is essential to ensuring that the person receives the most appropriate treatment and support.

Treatment for Social Communication Disorder

There is no known cure for social communication disorder, but there are various treatments available that can help manage symptoms. The most effective treatments for SCD are usually a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy.

Speech Therapy

Can help individuals with SCD improve their communication skills, such as learning to use proper grammar, understanding nonverbal cues, and maintaining eye contact during conversations. Speech therapists can also help individuals develop coping mechanisms for anxiety related to social situations.

Occupational Therapy

Can help individuals with SCD develop the fine motor skills necessary for communicating effectively, such as writing, typing, and using technology. This type of therapy can also help individuals learn how to manage sensory issues related to communication, such as noise sensitivity or touch sensitivity.

Behavioral Therapy

Can be especially helpful for individuals with SCD who also have symptoms of anxiety or depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns that may be contributing to their anxiety or depression. It can also help individuals develop coping mechanisms for managing stress and anxiety related to social situations.

EMDR Therapy and Neurofeedback Therapy

EMDR therapy can help individuals process past traumas that may be impacting their ability to communicate effectively. Neurofeedback therapy can help individuals with SCD improve their ability to focus and regulate their emotions, which can help improve social communication skills.

It’s important to note that treatment for SCD should be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and may involve a combination of different therapies and strategies. It’s also important to work with a qualified mental health professional who has experience working with individuals with SCD, such as those at the Serin Center. With the right treatment and support, individuals with SCD can improve their social communication skills and lead fulfilling lives.

EMDR Therapy for Social Communication Disorders

EMDR therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, is a form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating social communication disorder in both children and adults. It was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but has since been adapted for use in other mental health conditions.

The therapy involves the use of bilateral stimulation, which can include rapid eye movements, taps, or sounds, to activate the brain’s natural healing processes. This stimulation is thought to help reprocess traumatic memories or emotions that are contributing to the individual’s social communication difficulties.

During an EMDR therapy session, the individual will be asked to recall a traumatic event or a specific aspect of their social communication difficulties while also focusing on the bilateral stimulation. The therapist will then guide the individual through a series of cognitive and emotional processing exercises to help them reprocess their memories or emotions in a healthier way.

EMDR therapy has been found to be particularly effective in helping individuals overcome negative self-beliefs, increase their self-esteem, and improve their social skills and communication abilities. It can be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy or as a standalone treatment.

Neurofeedback for Social Communication Disorders

Neurofeedback therapy is a type of treatment that utilizes technology to train the brain to regulate and control its own activity. It is a non-invasive and painless therapy that can be used to treat a variety of mental health disorders, including social communication disorder.

During a neurofeedback session, sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor the electrical activity of the brain. This information is then relayed to a computer, which analyzes the data and provides feedback to the patient in the form of sounds or visual cues. The patient is then able to see how their brain is functioning in real-time and learn to regulate its activity.

Neurofeedback therapy can help individuals with social communication disorder by improving their ability to focus, concentrate, and regulate their emotions. It can also help to reduce symptoms such as anxiety and depression, which often co-occur with social communication disorder.

Neurofeedback therapy is an effective and safe treatment option for individuals with social communication disorder. It can help to improve social skills, reduce anxiety and depression, and enhance overall quality of life. It is important to work with a qualified mental health professional who is experienced in using this technique for the best possible outcomes.

Living with Social Communication Disorder

Living with social communication disorder can be challenging, both for the person affected and their loved ones. However, there are several things that can be done to improve communication and quality of life.

It is important to seek out a qualified mental health professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. This may involve speech therapy, social skills training, and other forms of therapy aimed at improving communication and reducing anxiety.

It can also be helpful to educate oneself and others about social communication disorder. This can help to reduce stigma and increase understanding, which can make it easier for individuals with the disorder to navigate social situations.

Social Communication Disorder can significantly impact an individual’s social and emotional well-being. However, with the right diagnosis and treatment, individuals with SCD can improve their communication and social skills and lead fulfilling lives. EMDR therapy and neurofeedback are promising treatment options for SCD, in addition to traditional interventions like speech therapy and occupational therapy. Working with a qualified mental health professional and seeking early intervention is crucial for improving outcomes and maximizing potential.

Serin Center experts have been utilizing applied neuroscience to enhance the lives of children, adolescents, adults, families, and executives with effective and innovative therapy.

Experience the power of innovative and effective applied neuroscience therapy for mental and emotional wellness. Visit Serin Center in Phoenix, Arizona. With offices in Peoria and Scottsdale, our experts provide cutting-edge approaches for faster, long-lasting results. Upgrade your life today and contact us to see how we can help your child, teen, or yourself.