Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Overview

Interpreting social situations

Children with special needs may exhibit difficulties with interpreting social situations and group dynamics.

Due to possible difficulties in language, self-regulation and monitoring, and memory, children, may experience difficulties remembering and learning from previous experiences, maintaining the topic of discussion, easily shifting and modulating reactions to peers, attending to the visual information presented during social discourse, and interpreting the nonverbal cues and body language. (Definition: Pragmatics refers to the effective use of language within a given context)

How Misinterpretation of Social Situations May Show
  • Disconnected comments
  • Misunderstanding of nonverbal cues and facial expressions and emotions
  • Confusion interpreting vocal inflections
  • Inability to predict the effects of actions on the others. (Using social stories and social guides)
  • Lack of awareness of the messages conveyed through gesture
  • Literal interpretation of language - such as missing the humor in jokes and misinterpreting sarcasm
  • Difficulties with spatial information and social boundaries
  • Difficulties with arousal regulation and modulating effect as the scenario or setting changes