About this Research Topic
Social communication (SC) can be defined as the selection of appropriate verbal and nonverbal messages and their appropriate interpretation within a social context. SC serves a rich variety of communicative functions of varying degrees of complexity (such as attracting somebody’s attention, commenting, sharing information or emotions and humor, arguing or negotiating). Essentially, SC includes the mastering of reciprocity and following the rules of conversation (including turn-taking skills, topic adherence or communicative repair strategies).
SC difficulties are highly heterogeneous and encompass clinical as well as non-clinical groups. Impairments of SC can be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders of language/communication, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and intellectual disability, and are a core symptom of autism spectrum disorders and of social (pragmatic) communication disorders recently introduced by the DSM 5. Furthermore, social communication difficulties can be associated with non-clinical populations such as children of low socio-economic status or with other experiences of deprivation. Finally, in case of insignificant impact on everyday functioning, SC difficulties can be regarded expressions on the physiological continuum.
SC difficulties, whether due to neurobiological origins, non-specific deprivation or a lack of nurturing communication experiences, can have profound and long-lasting effects on mental health. Children with SC impairments often experience peer relationship problems and continuing problems with social relationships in adulthood. Detrimental effects on emotional functioning and an increase of behavior problems have been found. Furthermore, by limiting the participation in everyday social learning experiences SC difficulties can thus inhibit language, cognitive and social development with consequences on mental health.
As a consequence, the definition of symptoms and coherent symptom constellations, the development of valid screenings, differential diagnostics, early identification and treatment of social communication problems are required. Essentially, early promotion of social communication skills (e.g. programs to enhance the quality and quantity of early parent child interaction) can be expected to be a significant mechanism to prevent or decrease mental health problems.
This Research Topic aims to increase our understanding of SC in childhood and youth and seeks to provide evidence for associations with mental health. More specifically, research exploring the role of SC in pathogenesis as well as in the prevention of mental illness is encouraged. We welcome:
o Original articles and reviews on the classification of SC and SC problems in childhood and adolescence and on the identification and assessment thereof
o Original articles on correlations between social communication difficulties or (early) social communication skills and mental health outcomes
o Original articles on etiological pathways between social communication and mental health (including neuro-biology)
o Original articles and reviews on the recent state of SC intervention or preventive studies including mental health outcomes
Keywords: Social Communication, Pragmatic Language, Mental Health, Outcomes, Interventions
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.