Social Interaction Difficulties and Autism


There are some subtle rules about how we use language to communicate and interact with other people. As adults we use them without realising it - we know what to say, when to say it and how to say it to other people.

Some children have difficulties in this area, which are sometimes referred to as 'pragmatic difficulties'.


Children with pragmatic or social interaction difficulties may also have problems using non-verbal skills, such as:

  • Making appropriate eye contact
  • Knowing how close to stand to someone
  • Using appropriate body language and facial expression
  • Interpreting someone's facial expression or tone of voice
  • They may also have difficulty with conversational skills and may
  • Interrupt more than is acceptable
  • Make little effort to keep conversations going by listening and responding
  • Randomly change the topic
  • Be unaware of what their conversational partner needs to know and give too little or too much information
  • Some children also take things very literally and misinterpret common expressions such as 'pull your socks up' or 'run on the spot'.

For more information on social interaction difficulties go to and follow the links to 'Difficulties with using Language Appropriately in Context'.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Some children with these sorts of difficulties may have a form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). If you're concerned that your child is showing characteristics of ASD talk to your health visitor or GP. You can also contact The National Autistic Society Helpline on 0845 070 4004 or