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When the DSM-V was released last May we expected some changes.  We saw the changes to Autism criteria and removal of PDD-NOS and Aspergers labels, but one of the most notable to our field was the creation of the Social Communication Disorder (SCD) category.


What is SCD?

The DSM-V characterizes SCD as…

“… a persistent difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication that cannot be explained by low cognitive ability. Symptoms include difficulty in the acquisition and use of spoken and written language as well as problems with inappropriate responses in conversation. The disorder limits effective communication, social relationships, academic achievement, or occupational performance. Symptoms must be present in early childhood even if they are not recognized until later when speech, language, or communication demands exceed abilities.”


SCD is a new category that refers to people who have difficulty with social language for communication but do not have the narrow interests and/or repetitive behaviors that someone with Autism might have.  That is the main difference. According to the DSM-V, the creation of this new category will help to better identify those who may, in the past, have been miss labeled and therefore, not given appropriate services.

So what does this mean for us as SLPs? It means we will need to watch for students who fit this new criteria and advocate for them if they need services.  Since this area is relatively new, we may need to educate teachers, parents, and even administration about it.  It also means we will need to learn.  Although we can define SCD and Autism and state what makes them different, we don’t know a lot about this new label the students that will fall into it. Is it simply the lack of repetitive behaviors and restricted interests that is the separate between Autism? Are these students literal thinkers too?

I hope this as helped to answer some questions and hopefully create some news too 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!




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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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One Response

  1. Thank you. It is a short article but very clear and helpful to parents who hate so many special terms in many other writings about the difference between ADS and Social Communication Disorder.

    I understand the difference now. Yes!

    Please keep writing.


    Tom H.

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