Social Communication Skills Competency in Teletherapy

Even in-person instruction in social communication can sound vague and abstract to students. Teaching Social Communication Skills Competency in Teletherapy and in-person can be a concrete and relatable for students with social communication needs. As you step into social communication in teletherapy, you're going to run into these problems:

  • Wondering if it's even "social communication" if it's screen-to-screen rather than person-to-person.

  • Forgetting to address social communication in all available virtual modes (i.e., the chat box).

  • Lacking "go-to" materials suitable for the teletherapy environment.

How do I know? These are the exact problems I encountered when I first entered telepractice. The learning curve was slow and steep simply because of the lack of training I had available to me. Good news: You can gather concrete social communication tools in the virtual environment faster than I did!


Social Communication Skills Telepractice Advocacy

If you're wondering how screen-to-screen can be considered part of an SLP's scope, think about the increase in availability and use of smartphones over the past several years. Did you know video chat apps were used by teens long before the teletherapy model of learning became a primary avenue of education? In 2012, Pew Research Center said that 37% of internet teens (ages 12-17) were participating in video chat....and that statistic has only increased.

Additionally, the social media platforms have expanded with 85% of teens using YouTube, 72% using Instagram, 69% using SnapChat, 51% using Facebook, and 34% using Twitter, according to Pew Research Center's 2018 survey. ASHA's Leader Live has weighed in with a few articles on this very subject:


The overall conclusion from reading through the references and statistics is that whether or not teens are engaging in virtual academics, they most certainly are engaging in screen-to-screen socialization. Having students in teletherapy gives Tele-SLPs a unique opportunity to teach live social communication in the virtual environment.


Bottom line: You'll want to make certain that your social skills goals for teletherapy address competency in all the modes available for communication in the virtual environment.

  1. Video/Camera

  2. Audio/Microphone

  3. Chat Box

  4. Reactions

  5. Polling

Video/Camera Skills Competency

  • Connection (turning on and off)

  • Self-orientation in the camera box

  • Situational appropriateness with environment in view


Audio/Microphone Skills Competency

  • Connection (turning on and off)

  • Response time

  • Planning for potential audio delays

  • Situational appropriateness with background conversations and noise


Chat Box Skills Competency

  • Ability to locate

  • Response time

  • Situational appropriateness

  • Keeping to conversation topic

  • Determining differences in private vs. public chats

  • Appropriate use of emojis


Reactions Skills Competency

  • Ability to locate

  • Response time

  • Situational appropriateness

  • Keeping reactions positive


Polling Skills Competency

  • Ability to locate

  • Response time

  • Situational appropriateness

  • Determining secret vs. open polls


Want to know how to assess these areas in Teletherapy? I've created an informal Conversation Evaluation Google Sheets™ assessment specifically for teletherapy that will make taking data on all these areas a breeze and inform your next steps for treatment. With this resource you’ll have concrete social skills competencies to assess then treat in Teletherapy. No more vague “get together and have a conversation“ sessions!


With confidence,

Angela C. Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP


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