I first heard of Social Stories when I was new to teaching children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There were not many available to us to use with our students, and I was confused about why these stories were explicitly for our children with ASD when it seemed that other young children would benefit from having a ‘script’ to prepare them for new, real-life situations.
Carol Gray is the leader in the creation and definition of Social Stories. She explains:
A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience.
Why use Social Stories?
Social Stories are particularly useful for teaching appropriate behaviors and preparing children for transitions or change. Reading social stories helps them know what to expect and provides a script to model the language and steps involved. I have used social stories to prepare students for:
- reinforcing daily routines (i.e. lining up, raising hand, getting dressed for outside)
- reinforcing play skills (i.e. sharing, taking turns)
- making transitions within the school from one room or activity to another
- making the transition in / out of the school at the beginning / end of the day
- a change in routine
- fire drills, bus safety day when they normally do not take a bus
- going on field trips
- meeting a new Educational Assistant or teacher
The list of possibilities continues.
I can attest to the power of the social story. When a child is prepared ahead of time, the anxiety of new situations is removed or lessened, and behaviors are minimized. As teachers and educational assistants, we are often in the position of knowing what to expect in situations that are students do not. That knowledge is power. I think of the social story as a non-medicinal solution to many of our students’ anxiety.
The specifics of Social Stories:
So how does a parent or teacher know if a Social Story will be effective? Carol Gray explains the details that must be attended to in its creation in this video:
Social Skills and Feelings Education Materials:
In the past few years, there has been (what feels like) an explosion of resources available for teaching Social Skills and understanding and managing feelings and emotions. Social Stories and resources like them can be found for a variety of topics to suit many individuals with ASD, and are now being recognized as a tool for many children, many of whom do not have an ASD diagnosis.
Common themes and high-yield strategies make them useful for children with and without autism, alike. Kids with feelings are kids with feelings after all.
To read about how using Social Stories with individual students in a kindergarten got me started on the path of creating the Dealing-With-Feelings series, please click here.
What Social Skills resources do you find helpful for children?
I’m a mom too Single mom of 9 yo twins, stepmom to 20 yo young lady, blogging about life, Autism and special needs