Updated: Apr 22, 2021
As you will notice from the large range available on the site, I am a big fan of social stories. The point of a social story is to use a patient and reassuring tone to teach children about social situations in a way that can be easily understood. Social stories can be useful for any child who is struggling to understand a situation or concept or needs help to understand a social skill or social cue, expectations, perspectives, common responses or is troubled about an upcoming event but social stories are particularly useful for children on the autistic spectrum for whom social cues can be challenging and who often suffer anxiety if they do not know what to expect from a situation. A good social story should help to alleviate some of this anxiety.
Social stories can sometimes be misinterpreted as something that is there to correct or change a child's behaviour but instead they should be seen as a way to provide the child with an improved understanding of events and expectations which would then hopefully lead to more effective responses. The overall aim a social story should always be to make the reader feel reassured and to give them a better understanding. The overall tone should always be patient and reassuring and it is also good to affirm the things they already do well. There should also be some flexibility written in where appropriate to make it appropriate to the individual child.
Social stories should be quite short and often repetitive to make the point very clear. Also, as children with ASD are often quite visual learners, it is useful to make social stories very visual having a picture for every sentence. Ideally it is good to individualise a story and personalise it to the child it is for, making it appropriate to them. Social stories are most often written in the first person or occasionally in the third person, this helps the child to better relate that it is about them.
To implement a social story you should first ensure that you have eliminated distractions, that it is just you and the child sitting together focussed on the story. Initially you should read the story through twice with the child but it is then vital to revisit it regularly. A common mistake I often see with social stories is it being read to a child just once or twice and the adult then questioning why it has not made a difference. The repetition of reading it over and over is what will really make a difference. Try to find a way to incorporate the story into the child's daily schedule. Also if the story is relating to a particular inappropriate behaviour it is useful to read the story when this behaviour occurs, you do not however want the story to be seen as any kind of punishment. If after regular reading of the story of an extended period of time you do not see any change in the child's understanding then you may need to consider adjusting the story and adding to it. However, what you should begin to see is the child understanding the story and putting changes and more effective responses in to place. At this point you can begin to fade the story out and only bring it back again later if it is needed.
Available on the website we have a huge range of social stories and are always adding more. We are also open to requests so if you have a particular subject that you need a social story on just send a message and we will make it for you. Here is the ever growing list of social stories currently available: