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Language and Pragmatics

We may think language consists solely of what we say, but there is so much more to it than that! Many times, the way we say things is as important as the content. Additionally, body language, facial expressions and all of the other dynamics that accompany what we say can impact the message. With all those factors to consider, no wonder we human beings so often misunderstand each other! If your language (auditory comprehension, verbal expression, reading comprehension, or written expression) impacts your ability to appropriately interact with others (pragmatics), we can treat those needs. 

Along with the words we use, we must also understand what we hear and attach meaning to it, technically known as auditory comprehension. Tone of voice, pauses between words, emphasis used, and the rhythm and pattern of speech will all play a part in delivering and understanding the true meaning of others.

The ability to accurately and appropriately use spoken language to express our observations, needs, thoughts and feelings is known as verbal expression. From a very early age, when a toddler says, “dada,” ““mine” or “no,”  they are building the foundation for verbal expression, which will grow more sophisticated and complex as the brain’s language centers develop and their experiences grow. Often verbal expression can be impacted secondary to stroke or other neurological diagnoses. Someone can also be very verbal, but have difficulty organizing and verbalizing those thoughts to share the message effectively. Verbal expression becomes so central to who we are that it becomes extremely traumatizing when conditions such as brain injury or Parkinson’s disease for instance threaten to silence us.

Reading comprehension is the ability to actively interpret and understand what is read. As we read, our amazing brain is not only stringing together sounds and words at a lightning-fast pace, it is also assigning meaning to those words and phrases so we can understand and remember what is being read. In order to understand written content as we process it, we not only need to possess strong language skills, but also a working knowledge of people, objects and events. The world around us helps to give context and perspective to what we read. Reading comprehension is necessary for many entry-level jobs and the academic skills required for post-secondary education. Fortunately, reading comprehension can be enhanced greatly by learning new skills.

Written expression is the ability to convey meaning through writing. Yes, it requires the building blocks driven home by our English teachers: spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. The truly challenging part of written expression is to tap into those high-level composition skills, such as planning, organization, content creation and revision to convey information effectively.

Pragmatics is a fancy word that simply refers to the verbal and nonverbal aspects of social language. When someone exhibits impaired pragmatics, which commonly occurs with individuals diagnosed with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder, the socially accepted rules of language and communication are not naturally applied. Personal space when speaking to others, tone, volume, or allowing the other person to contribute to the conversation – may not be understood. Without consciously intending to do so, the person may be incorrectly perceived as being rude, inappropriate or self-centered, when the real issue is a struggle with pragmatics. A breakdown in pragmatics can negatively affect interactions and relationships with others.

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Language and Pragmatics
Qualified Therapists

Our dedicated team of speech-language pathologists are specially trained in speech therapy as it relates to cognitive-communication issues (how you listen, process, focus, remember, and communicate). We are also nationally certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are nationally recognized by the Brain Injury Association of America and are Certified Brain Injury Specialists (CBIS). We are licensed to practice in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We believe every patient deserves the best treatment and support we can offer in every single contact and interaction with us.

Individual Approach

We recognize that no two people have the same needs and that everyone has different learning styles. That’s why we like to call our approach “the Progressive way,” which means we will happily customize treatment plans to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family. We also believe in “the right fit” between patient and therapist, so will make every effort to match you with a clinician who connects with you, understands you, and utilizes a therapy style that is comfortable for you.

We are here to help

Depending on the goals you wish to accomplish and the learning pace that is most comfortable for you, we will arm you with the evidence-based strategies, proven skills, and ample support you need to feel more organized, prepared, and effective. Therapy strategies may range from recommendations for specific tools (such as timers or planners), one-on-one brainstorming and problem-solving to address concerns, therapeutic activities as well as computer trials or worksheets to help strengthen cognitive and executive functions like attention, memory, and planning.

Coaching with compassion

We know that working on cognitive-communication issues is hard work and that it can be easy to feel defeated or overwhelmed by the challenges of building a more efficient brain. However, you will not be in this alone. We are not just speech-language pathologists; we are fellow human beings who care about you, your journey, and your success. We don’t want an appointment to feel like you’ve been sent to the principal’s office. Instead, you’ll find a comfortable space where you’ll feel listened to and understood. And because humor makes everything more bearable, be prepared to laugh and joke a bit too!