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What is Social Communication Disorder?

Since 2013, we’ve known about Social Communication Disorder, or SCD. Untold thousands suffer from this condition. Today however, sufferers are able to be connected relatively easily with a professional who can help make life better in this realm of struggle. So, what exactly is Social Communication Disorder? Let’s get straight to some answers.

2013 DSM

In order to understand SCD and its defines today, it’s important to acknowledge the medical manual that officially established this named condition. This happened in 2013 as the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, was released as a new edition to older manuals. In this new edition produced by the American Psychiatric Association we would see for the first time Social Communication Disorder.

In the past, the manual and most doctors acknowledged a previous condition known as Asperger Syndrome. This mild form of autism presented itself in unique ways deserving of its own name and medical classification. Essentially, the 2013 version of the DSM went on to make this term and diagnosis obsolete. Today’s more accurate and correct addressing of the symptoms of yesterday’s Asperger Syndrome, as the APA decided, would now go forward under the new terminology and defines of Social Communication Disorder, or SCD.


As this condition is essentially an updated understanding of Asperger Syndrome, one will likely find many similarities between it and that past namesake. Each is ultimately a from of mild autism. A solid and current symptom list then will look much like this:

  • General or specific difficulties with regard to social interactions
  • Difficulty in applying speech and common speech styles in communicating
  • Misunderstanding or misuse of context or linguistic politeness
  • General or specific cognitive difficulties
  • Difficulty in the use of pragmatics, or symbols, eye contact, and body language in communication
  • Difficulty in emotional response and interpretation in communication


As per this condition’s prospective complexity, concepts in treatment can also be quite numerous and complex. Deferring greatly to the resources of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, we can start to see how multi-faceted treatment of this condition can really be. First, the association explains that there are many, initial strategies that can be taken in treatment.

Next, the association explains the application of treatment modes and modalities per the patient and their specific circumstances. For example, Augmentive and Alternative Communication, or AAC, provides learning and treatment through differing forms of communication and their practice. Computer-based instruction employs technology in the pursuit of various treatment approaches. Finally, ASHA discusses the modality of video-based instruction, or “video modeling.”

Beyond these treatment concepts, ASHA explains that there are many forms of additional technique and intervention that can also be applied in each case. The Denver Model, for example, is a play-based technique for treatment. Milieu Training, on the other hand, is another method which stresses the importance of treatment approach at all times of the day as opposed to simply during therapy times. These are only a few examples of the many, further approaches discussed by the association with regard to the treatment of SCD.

Related Resource: Top 20 Online Applied Behavior Analysis Bachelor’s Degree and BCaBA Coursework Programs

SCD is a condition which affects many people today. While the condition itself hasn’t changed, its defines by the American Psychiatric Association have been updated within recent years. These are the basics of what is known today as SCD, or Social Communication Disorder.