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Inability to Comprehend Social Cues (4B)

Inability to comprehend social cues is defined as difficulty understanding what others are saying by processing facial expressions or body language, or difficulty using facial expression or body language to effectively express feelings or emotions. In some students it also includes a lack of awareness of how their behavior affects others.
Students with receptive deficits have difficulty accurately interpreting other's body language, perceiving emotions, or understanding the subtle visual cues of facial expression. Additionally, they may misperceive social interactions and respond by laughing inappropriately or becoming unexpectedly angry or argumentative. Those with expressive deficits may have difficulty using appropriate facial expressions or maintaining eye contact particularly when they are anxious or under stress. Students may also have difficulty gauging personal space and may stand too close or discuss private information loudly.

Formal Diagnostics

A diagnosis by a physician or psychologist that makes reference to difficulties understanding social cues, sarcasm or metaphorical speech, or body language would be appropriate documentation.

Intake Questions

  • Is it hard for you to tell how someone feels based only on their facial expressions or vocal intonation?
  • Has misinterpreting other people's body language impacted your social interactions?
  • Do you find that other people frequently misunderstand you because of your tone or expressions?
  • Do you often find that you have violated a rule but you are not clear about what you did?
  • Do you find that people have become really frustrated with you but you don't know why?
  • What accommodations or strategies have been effective in the past?


The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.