Last week on the blog, we discussed the benefits of social stories for children with autism and/or language disorders. Social stories, developed by Carol Gray, provide an easy to follow visual for appropriate behavior and conversation during social situations. They can be used for a variety of purposes including transitions, inappropriate behavior, social interactions, and new experiences.
Writing a social story
- The most effective social stories relate to the child’s current routine or situation. Writing your own story allows one to directly target a desired skill. There are a few points to consider when writing a social story:
- Intent of message: What is the main idea or point of the story? The intent may be for self-regulation, self-esteem, social skills, or productive behavior. Instead of explaining what a child should not do, create positive messages to encourage appropriate behaviors. For instance, instead of saying “do not hit when upset”,reword to a more positive behavior, such as: “we use our words when we are upset”.
- Complexity of language: Using simple, direct language, increases comprehension and implementation of the message. Choose age-appropriate vocabulary that the child understands.
- Step-by-step: Social stories are effective because they take the guesswork out of a social situation. Be sure to include each mundane step so children can effectively implement the message without having to make their own inferences.
- Sentence types: There are four types of sentences that are used in a social story: descriptive, directive, perspective, and control. All four sentences should be included in the story. Below are examples for each type in regard to a social story about personal space:
- o Descriptive sentences: Explain what people do in a certain social situation from a third person perspective. “It is not polite to stand too close to people. It is polite to respect others’ personal space”.
- o Directive sentences: Positively elicit a specific response or behavior. “When I talk to other people, I need to step back and give them some space”.
- o Perspective sentences: Explain another person’s feelings or opinions in a social situation. “My friend feels uncomfortable when I stand too close. She is happy if I give her space”.
- o The control sentence: Is the message intent of the story. The child constructs the sentence to help them recall the targeted skills. “I remember to keep an arms’ length between my friend and I when we talk”.
How to use social stories?
Create an easy to access plan for the social story. Would it be best to keep on the desk, near the door, or in their folder? Next, determine who will be the facilitators of the social story. For non-readers, a caregiver can read the story out loud, record on a device, or program the story into an assistive device and/or ipad. For readers, the teacher or caregiver may be able to simply reference the story by pointing and bringing attention to it during specific situations. As mentioned in last week’s post, social stories are only one component of therapy. For the story to be successful, the child must practice the desired skill in appropriate situations with the help of parents, caregivers, and/or therapists. As the child practices and uses the skills more often, the story is slowly faded out. Eventually the skill will be engraved in long-term memory, and the visual of the social story is no longer necessary.
Examples of Social Stories
To learn how to make your own template, Autism Speaksoutlines the steps using Microsoft PowerPoint here. Below are some free, pre-made stories to try out!
- I Will Not Hit
- Playing with Friends(from headstartinclusion.org)
- How to Talk to my Friends(from Watson Institute)
- Seat Work(from esc20.net)
Check out more on ABA Education Resources.
LUMIERE THERAPY TEAM🖐️
Cosgrave, Gavin. “Social Stories.” Token Economy – Educate Autism, www.educateautism.com/social-stories.html.
“Social Stories for Autism, ADHD and PDD-NOS.” Epidemic Answers, 17 Apr. 2014, epidemicanswers.org/social-stories-for-autism-adhd-pddnos/.
“Social Stories.” PBIS World RSS, www.pbisworld.com/tier-2/social-stories/.
“Social Stories.” Social Stories : ABA Resources, www.abaresources.com/social-stories/.
Vicker, Beverly. “Indiana University Bloomington.” IIDC – The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University,