Elizabeth King BS, SLPA
Speech Language Pathology Assistant

Social skills and language skills are closely linked, please expand on this topic overall.

Social skills fall into pragmatic language, the branch of language used for various purposes including greeting, requesting, demanding, informing, and promising. We use pragmatic language by following various rules in conversation, such as topic introduction, topic maintenance, turn taking, body language, awareness of personal space, and the ability to change our language and speech based on our current situation or location and who we are talking with at the time.

How does a parent know their child may benefit from social group therapy? Should a child first be in private speech therapy to be recommended?

Although children who are receiving private speech language therapy are often referred for social language group, it is not necessary for children to receive individual speech language therapy before attending a social language group. If a child is not already receiving speech language services, a parent may talk to their child’s pediatrician about their concerns and ask for a referral so their child may be tested to see if he or she qualifies for services. A pragmatic language test will then be administered to the child. At Special Kids, we use some Social Thinking® methodology. We use their Social Communication Profile to help assess what type of social communicator a child may be considered. This provides therapists with a way to assess what areas a child needs the most help with so he may be placed in the social language group most appropriate for him. If the child qualifies for services, he may then begin therapy in social language group.

What does a typical group therapy session include?

A typical social language group consists of direct intervention for pragmatic language skills and social behaviors. Games and social scenarios are often paired with therapy materials to target goals in a motivating and applicable manner children will enjoy. 

What topics are covered during a typical group therapy?

Topics addressed in social language group may include but are not limited to:

  • Rules for conversation (i.e. introducing your topic, staying on topic, maintaining eye contact, turn taking, asking questions, responding appropriately, etc.)
  • Interpreting and using body language appropriately (i.e. controlling your body, respecting personal space, etc.)
  • Understanding non-literal language (i.e. idioms, similes, metaphors, indirect language, etc.)
  • Problem solving (determining the size of a problem and how to fix the problem)
  • Interpreting, managing, and expressing emotions
  • Developing empathy  
  • Understanding rules (i.e. spoken vs. unspoken rules, location specific rules, rules during emergencies, etc.)

How often do social groups meet?

Social language groups typically meet once each week. This allows for you and your child to make the weekly commitment to receive services even in the midst of a busy schedule. This also means your child will have greater success with social language group if you work with him at home on what you learn together.

What to expect if your child begins social group therapy.

You can expect to have a certified speech language therapist help your child and others in his or her group improve their social language.  You will be able to review your child’s goals, ask questions and share your concerns and hopes for your child regarding their social skills and behaviors. Your speech therapist will provide you with materials and resources to assist you as you implement what you and your child learn from social language group into your routine. This will help your child progress more quickly with his goals and make a positive impact in his daily interactions.

What can a parent do to find out more?

If you have concerns about your child’s social language abilities, please visit here. This linked PDF outlines components of social communication. If your child has difficulty in any of these areas, he may qualify for services.

To learn more, below are recommended references:

References are for informational purposes only and they are not intended to replace physician and/or speech therapy treatment(s)


  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2017, April 30).Components of Social Communication. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/ASHA/Practice_Portal/ Clinical_Topics/Social_Communication_Disorders_in_School-Age_Children/Components-of-Social-Communication.pdf
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2017, April 30). Pragmatic Language Tips. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/PragmaticLanguageTips/
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2017, April 29). Social Communication Disorders in School Age Children. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic. aspx?folderid
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2017, April 29). Social Language Use (Pragmatics). Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Pragmatics/
  • Social Thinking® (2017, May 1). Our Mission. https://www.socialthinking.com/LandingPages/ Mission