Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SLPs and our clients' communication online

With regards to yesterday's post, it is worth discussing how SLPs' expertise in the nuances of communication can help our students and clients as some of them venture into the world of social networking on sites such as Facebook. With some teen groups I have worked with in private practice, Facebook has come up a lot and we have explored the use of it as a social tool and its benefits and challenges. In our discussions with parents the other day, it was interesting to hear one mom describe how Facebook has really helped her son with AS in some situations. His being able to thoughtfully explore some communication with peers online without having to worry about the fast-paced nature of verbal conversation, or nonverbally getting into the same space as potential friends in the hallway, etc, has assisted in "breaking the ice." Of course, parents and everyone else worry a lot about the potential for bullying online as well.

In the public school setting, it is easy to argue that Facebook and sites like it have nothing to do with school and therefore have no place in therapy contexts. However, things that happen on Facebook can spill into the school setting in both positive and negative ways and affect our students' academic work. So, clinicians could choose to be reactive, and launch some instruction based on what s/he is hearing in pragmatics groups, or proactively, our high-functioning teen students could probably use at least a few lessons in these areas. Parent involvement is key with these topics, and the "expected and unexpected behaviors" (concept, of course, from Michele Garcia Winner's work) or Hidden Curriculum (Brenda Smith Myles) should be shared in consultation with parents to promote their discussions with their kids, and parent permission might even be a good thing to obtain.

What do you think? Have you conducted any instruction in social networking etiquette with your students? Comments and thoughts welcome as always.

Yeah, I don't know what half of these sites are either- but often the rules are the same!

You can read a portion of Brenda Smith Myles' Hidden Curriculum at Google Books. I would encourage anyone to buy the whole thing or one of her Page-a-Day Calendars.

In case you didn't see it, here is our little Google Docs presentation on the topic, also posted yesterday:


  1. Sean this slide show is great and totally applicable to so many teenagers we SLPs work with. Honestly it's applicable to some of my friends on facebook as well! :)

  2. Thank you...that's how Katy and I came up with our list: we thought of what annoys us about our Facebook friends, then amped it up to include what might happen with kids who have more significant boundary issues!