The Impact of Pragmatic Deficits on Speaking, Reading and Writing

Pragmatic deficits refer to difficulties understanding and using language in context, particularly in social situations. Pragmatic deficits manifest when students struggle with the social nuances of language, such as interpreting figurative language, understanding non-verbal cues, and navigating conversational turn-taking. These deficits can have far-reaching consequences on various aspects of communication, including oral narratives, reading comprehension, and written composition. This post explores the intricate relationship between pragmatic deficits and these language skills, shedding light on the challenges students with such deficits face and the implications for their academic and social lives.

One of the notable impacts of pragmatic deficits is observed in storytelling. Narratives or stories are essential for expressing a variety of experiences, sharing information, and engaging in meaningful conversations. Students with pragmatic deficits face challenges in organizing and conveying their thoughts coherently, leading to difficulties in constructing compelling oral narratives. This can hinder effective communication and social interaction, and impact interpersonal relationships and academic performance (Adams, & Bishop 1989).

 Pragmatic deficits also play a crucial role in reading comprehension, as comprehension is not solely about decoding words but also understanding the underlying meaning and context. Students with pragmatic deficits struggle with inferential reasoning, understanding implied information, and grasping the subtleties of written language. These challenges will impede their comprehension of complex texts, affecting academic performance across various subjects (Cain & Oakhill, 2006; Norbury & Nation 2011).

In the realm of written composition, pragmatic deficits will manifest in challenges related to organization, coherence, and the inclusion of relevant details. Affected students will struggle to express their ideas clearly, leading to disjointed and incoherent written work. Additionally, difficulties in understanding and using appropriate language conventions may impact the overall quality of written compositions, affecting academic achievement and future professional endeavors. (Scott, & Windsor, 2000).

Pragmatic deficits pose significant challenges to students in various aspects of language use, including oral narratives, reading comprehension, and written composition. Understanding the impact of these deficits is crucial for speech-language pathologists working with individuals facing these challenges. Evidence-based interventions aimed at addressing pragmatic deficits can play a pivotal role in enhancing communication skills, academic achievement, and overall quality of life for affected students.


  1. Adams, C., & Bishop, D. V. (1989). Conversational characteristics of children with semantic-pragmatic disorder: I. Exchange structure, contingent events, and physical co-presence. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 32(2), 308–319.
  2. Cain, K., & Oakhill, J. (2006). Profiles of children with specific reading comprehension difficulties. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(4), 683–696.
  3. Norbury, C. F., & Nation, K. (2011). Understanding variability in reading comprehension in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Interactions with language status and decoding skill. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15(3), 191–210.
  4. Scott, C. M., & Windsor, J. (2000). General language performance measures in spoken and written discourse produced by school-age children with and without language learning disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 43(2), 324–339.
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