Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Adult Developmental Disorders

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Penn Social Learning Disorders Program

What are Social Learning Disorders?

People with SLD have trouble understanding nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions. They may pay attention to objects more than people in general. They tend to look only at certain aspects of the face (i.e., mouth) instead of the face as a whole. These deficits often lead to social blunders - not knowing when to enter a conversation, talking too long, not picking up important social cues, not knowing how to respond to people. People with SLD may be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Social Phobia, or Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

Social learning deficiencies can affect school or occupational functioning and may make it difficult to find employment. Social isolation may also affect self-esteem and place added stress on family relationships.

Despite greater awareness of social learning disorders today, many individuals are not diagnosed until they are older. They need help developing strategies for dealing with the social world and life’s demands.

What Causes SLDs?

SLDs are neurodevelopmental disorders of brain functioning in the frontal lobes and other structures involved in processing emotional and social information. People with SLD may also process language differently. They may be very literal in their interpretations of what is said to them and cannot detect when someone is using sarcasm or figurative speech.



For more information about our program, please call our intake coordinator at (215) 573-1159.