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What the Heck is Social Pragmatics?

What the Heck is Social Pragmatics?

One of my favorite areas to work on with kids in speech and language therapy is something we call social pragmatics. Many children with challenges in receptive and expressive language benefit from improving their social pragmatic skills. But what does it mean?

Social pragmatics refers to the social use of language and how individuals interact with others. This includes what we say, how we say it, our body language, taking turns in conversation, showing interest in another person’s comments and ideas, and even knowing when not to talk! Pragmatic skills are central to how we communicate with others and participate in social groups, such as our families and communities. Pragmatic skills are vital for communicating our personal thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Some children have more difficulty than others when it comes to social language. If you parent or know a child with an autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s syndrome, you’re aware of struggles with skills like eye contact, asking for and sharing information, engaging in meaningful conversation, using humor, offering responses to prompts or questions, and gaining attention in an appropriate way. In my day-to-day clinic practice I find it rewarding, fascinating and sometimes downright mystifying when working with children on understanding and developing social skills. I find it rewarding because I know whatever I do to help a child improve social language skills will truly impact every area of his or her life. I find it fascinating because every child is unique, with his or her own way of interacting with the world. With especially severe disorder areas, like classic autism, I am mystified by the tedious, painstaking and loving process of “breaking into” a child’s world to bring them more into ours.

Language is power, and when we equip our precious little ones with the ability to engage and interact appropriately with others, we are taking them one step further toward and self-actualization and independence! Here are some simple things you can do to help:
– Provide a good model. Get down to your child’s eye level and use positive body language and eye contact.

– Demonstrate appropriate turn-taking by letting your child speak or gesture without being interrupted. Use pauses in conversation to allow your child to formulate and express his/her ideas.

– Give gentle, verbal reminders, such as “listen with your eyes,” and “listen with your body.”

– Use stories and visual supports to provide examples of appropriate behavior. Many ideas can

be found online using the search term “social stories.”

– Offer role-playing opportunities where your child can practice certain routines and skills in a positive way.

– Read simple story books about responding to affection, asking for help, using humor and following directions. Some of my favorites include the “Grumpy Bunny” series by Scholastic Publishing.

– Praise your child for maintaining a topic introduced by others, asking for and giving information, and using appropriate strategies to gain attention without interrupting. So, the next time your child engages in inappropriate (and even embarrassing) behavior, especially when others may perceive your kiddo is being – well, a little less than socially acceptable – keep the above tips in mind to support significant changes over time. Above all, strive to provide the best example you can, both at home and in the community. Whether your child has a language delay, autism, Asperger’s or communication delays that present barriers to appropriate social language, use some of these strategies to support winning social language skills!

Also worth a look – Here are some of my favorite websites offering insightful and hands-on info regarding social language:; Jill Kuzma’s Social-Emotional Sharing Site; Therapy Bee Speech Patholgy; Amer Speech, Language & Hearing Assn; also ASHA

By: Jane Lomas, M.S., CCC-SLP

Does your child have anxiety?

Anxiety in Children and Teens | Children's Therapy PlaceAnxiety can be overlooked in children. Does any of this sound like your child or teen?

  • Difficulty separating, excessive clinginess, crying, and/or tantrums
  • Excessive shyness, quiet, avoiding social situations
  • Pessimism and negative thinking patterns such as imagining the worst, over-exaggerating the negatives
  • Constant worry about things that might happen or have happened
  • Avoidance behaviors, including things, situations or places because of fears
  • Physical complaints of frequent stomachaches or headaches
  • Experiencing sudden and frequent panic attacks

Anxiety is the most common mental health concern for children and adults. Because anxious children and teens are often quiet and compliant, however, they frequently go unnoticed by their parents and teachers. As a result, many never receive the help they desperately need.

Anxiety can be managed!

Anxiety in Children and Teens | Children's Therapy Place

Here are some tips to help your child.

Become a detective and begin recording your child’s moods and behaviors.
When are they at their best….or worst? What happened right before a behavioral meltdown? Was there too much commotion or noise? Often times, children can become overstimulated and need a quiet place to calm.

Let your child know they can talk to you and be available to your child.
Encourage your child to talk to you about any problems he may be having, and to talk about his feelings openly and honestly. Be present for your child as much as possible.

Be sure to listen to your child before offering suggestions.
As much as you might want to jump in and help offer solutions, allow your child time to fully express their thoughts and emotions before making comments or expressing your opinions.

Try doing something active with your child.
Some children may feel more comfortable talking about their problems while engaging in an activity with a parent. Do something you both enjoy, such as going for a walk, making cookies, or playing a round of basketball in the driveway before asking your child to discuss a problem he may be having. Exercise is wonderful for anxiety, it’s a natural anti-depressant/stress reliever increasing our “happy chemicals” in our brain.

Get your child to do some deep breathing activities.
Deep breathing helps to calm the body. With calm slow breaths the rest of our body will follow. Our blood pressure slows down, our heart rate slows down and eventually our entire body will begin to relax. Encourage your child to breathe in “good” air and exhale “bad” air, and picture it carrying any worries out of his/her body. With young children blowing bubbles is an excellent way to help them grasp the idea of deep breathing.

Get your child into counseling.
If your child continues to have behaviors that may exhibit anxiety call and schedule an appointment with a counselor at Children’s Therapy Place for your child. Anxiety is a horrible feeling and your child deserves to get the help he/she needs to resolve this.

What are Habilitative Intervention (HI) and Habilitative Support (HS)?

What are Habilitative Intervention (HI) and Habilitative Support (HS)?

Children’s Therapy Place offers Habilitative Intervention (HI) and Habilitative Support (HS) Services, in Boise, Meridian and Nampa.

What exactly are HI and HS and who needs them?

Habilitative Intervention and Habilitative Support Behavioral Services

Many parents come to us when they have a child who struggles socially, needs help expressing his/her emotions, hasn’t quite mastered potty training, and/or if he/she has the need to be in control all of the time. Some parents will seek services here if the child displays frequent melt downs or if he/she is physically aggressive or violent. At times, it can be a struggle for parents to know how to react to certain behaviors and/or defiance.

Children’s Therapy Place therapists will work one-on-one with your child and will also work with parents to help familiarize them with intervention techniques and ways to teach replacement behaviors. Our services are covered 100% by Medicaid and the process is an easy one to pursue. Our Clinical Supervisors are more than happy to meet with parents and discuss options and see if it is the right fit for your family.

What we offer

Habilitative Intervention

Habilitative Intervention and Habilitative Support Habilitative Intervention is a service that is specifically designed to teach new skills, such as following through with directives, remaining on task, engaging in appropriate play with peers, and much more. The therapist has a four year or Master’s degree in the Human Service field and has a background working with children with developmental delays. At Children’s Therapy Place, the therapists have extra training provided by their supervisors that ensures that they are prepared for behavioral intervention and providing fun, behaviorally based therapy. Habilitative Intervention is definitely the service that is sought out the most, because it shows the most growth and progress.

Habilitative Support

Habilitative Support is a service that is provided primarily in the community setting and is designed to support skills that the child already has, but still needs support or reminders to follow through with. The therapist is required to take a course that certifies him/her and is also trained further, through job shadowing, supervisor training, and observations done in the center. While the HS doesn’t have as much experience as the HI, they are still prepared and understand job functions before working with the child. Some families choose HS over HI, because it is a way to maximize hours.

Family Training

Habilitative Intervention and Habilitative Support Family Training is a service that is provided for the families. The HI therapist will work with the family and child and develop a plan to ensure that everyone who is involved is implementing the same techniques so that there is consistency in the child’s life. When everyone involved reacts the same and follows through in the same manner, it is less confusing for the child and allows for more progress in skill areas.

Please contact Cyndy Eldredge, DDA Supervisor with any questions, comments, or concerns (208) 323-8888.


Play Therapy

play therapy
Play therapy is an effective tool useful especially working with younger clients.  Although it may be used for people of all ages, here at Children’s Therapy Place we focus on children’s needs and offer cutting edge tools and strategies to help children deal with their life issues.

Play therapy has been around a long time.

A famous saying from Plato says, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”  The origins of counseling demonstrate examples of play therapy starting with Sigmund Freud.  

More recently, the American Play Therapy Association, established in 1982, and various State chapters (including the State of Idaho) are involved in play therapy.  Many organizations and associations incorporate play therapy into their intervention models.  Some examples include the American Red Cross, World Vision, and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.  There are also many countries investing in play therapy research including Great Britain, Iran, South Africa, and Taiwan.

Play therapy is best conducted by trained mental health professionals.

Much study is involved for a counselor to become a registered play therapist.  To do so, a State license in Counseling or Social Work including Master’s degree or PhD, two years and two thousand hours of experience in counseling, two hundred supervision hours, yearly renewal and continuing education units, must first be obtained.  After this, a licensed counselor must have an additional one hundred and fifty play therapy class hours, five hundred hours of direct play therapy experience and fifty hours of concurrent play therapy supervision, yearly renewal and continued education units in play therapy modalities to become a registered play therapist.

Just as adults use words to communicate, children use play. Children who do not speak may be able to do play therapy.

Play therapy is another method in helping children work through difficult issues.  We are happy to offer play therapy here at Children’s Therapy Place.  We have a clinician who is a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and another who if in process of becoming a Registered Play Therapist.   They conduct different methods including the Dimensions model, a Psychodynamic approach, Sandplay and various other modalities in the play therapy offered at Children’s Therapy Place.  We are always looking for new ways in which to work with children.

If your child is in need of high quality therapy, please consider Children’s Therapy Place in your research.  We accept Medicaid and all insurance carriers and offer counseling five days per week with our three locations (Boise, Meridian and Nampa).

What is Occupational Therapy? It’s a common question.

Children’s Therapy Place provides Occupational Therapy for children in Boise, Meridian, Nampa and throughout the Idaho Treasure Valley.  We often have parents question why a young child would be referred for this service and wonder what is occupational therapy? We hope you find the information below helpful!

What is Occupational Therapy for Children?


A child’s “occupation” is to learn, play, and grow into a healthy, competent adult.  Sometimes they need help performing every day activities like writing, drawing, coloring in the lines, dressing, tying shoes, feeding themselves, brushing teeth, and/or paying attention.

Occupational Therapy aims to help children achieve success in their life occupations and become as independent as possible.  It focuses on the main occupations of:

  • School (e.g. writing, fine motor skills, learning, attention)
  • Self-care ( e.g. bathing, dressing, eating, cutlery use, organizing self)
  • Play (e.g. imaginative play, social interaction, gross motor skills)
  • Home tasks (e.g. fitting in with family life, jobs, homework, getting self ready)

In the pediatric setting, occupational therapists use their expertise to help children prepare for and perform important learning and developmental activities.  Many work with children who need help with their handwriting or in developing learning strategies to help them remain focused in class and get their homework done.  Occupational therapists also may help children with autism learn how to interact with others, or might help kids with sensory processing disorders learn ways to interact with their environment in a more comfortable and appropriate way.

More specifically, therapists help children develop fine motor skills, visual motor (eye-hand coordination) skills, sensory regulation and physical access to help make learning and participation possible.

Who Needs Occupational Therapy?

Your child may be a good candidate for occupational therapy if:

  • The child avoids fine motor activities. They have difficulty manipulating small objects, using scissors, demonstrate an abnormal pencil grip, or their hand tires easily during fine motor tasks.
  • They have trouble with writing including pushing too hard or not hard enough, not being able to develop and maintain a good grasp on the pencil, and having trouble with size and spacing of their letters.
  • They have difficulty with gross motor tasks such as riding a bike, skipping, or hopping.
  • The child seems to have more difficulty than peers completing self-care activities like: putting on and buttoning their coat, putting on and tying shoes, and brushing teeth.
  • They are overly sensitive or emotional to sensory stimulation including touch, textures, tastes, sound, and movement.
  • They are under responsive with decreased reactions to movement, touch, sound, or have unusually low emotional responses.
  • The child has more trouble than their peers writing in their assignment notebook, keeping their desk and folders organized, and turning in assignments on time.

Children’s Therapy Place therapists are licensed through the state of Idaho and certified through the national Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.   Please contact our office at 208-323-8888 for more information.


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6855 W. Fairview Ave.
Boise, ID 83704

6429 W Interchange Lane
Boise, ID 83709

5640 E. Franklin Rd, Suite 180
Nampa, ID 83687

2273 E. Gala Street, Suite 120 
Meridian Idaho 83642

P.O. Box 27906
Panama City, FL 32411

Phone 208.323.8888
Fax 208.323.8889


Offices in Boise, Nampa, Emmett, Statewide Online and Now serving the Florida Panhandle


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