How Can We Make Social Groups Work Online?

Mary Ann O’Connell, Speech Language Pathologist, Profectum Fellow’s Graduate and Communications Committee member published an insightful, helpful article in the The ASHA LeaderLive on the topic of telepractice.

October 1, 2020

When Illinois issued COVID-19 quarantine orders at the end of March, the notion of moving social skills sessions online felt like an interesting challenge.

I work at a multidisciplinary, family-centered private practice. We specialize in the treatment of infants, children, teens, and adults with a range of sensory processing, communication, and motor disorders.

Two clinicians from three different disciplines (speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and mental health) lead social groups. We group 10- to 14-year-olds according to developmental level and age (a maximum two-year age range). Participants have diagnoses that may include mild to moderate autism spectrum disorder, social-communication disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, nonverbal learning disorder, and social-emotional disorders.

Concerned about the impact of reduced social interaction on our clients’ development, we decided we wanted to move in-clinic groups to an online platform. I struggled to wrap my brain around it, but we decided to give it a try.


Mary Ann O’Connell, MS, CCC-SLP, works with children in a multi-disciplinary clinic in Northbrook, Illinois. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education, a Profectum Foundation Fellows Graduate and Communications Committee member.