The use of Social Stories, developed by Carol Gray (2004), provides a person with the opportunity to use visual information and strategies that will improve understanding of various social situations and teach specific behaviors to use when interacting with others. Social Stories are written in first person and are written for each individual child for a difficult social situations (for example, staying in assigned seat on the bus). The Social Story should be visually represented in a mode which the reader can most readily understand (such as line drawings, photos and written words).
The repetitious ‘reading’ of the Social Story, when the child is calm, is what leads to the success of this strategy. Social Stories can be made on notebook paper and kept in a binder. Maybe one for home and one for school so that the stories can be read at leisure. This strategy has proven to be very successful for many who are learning to recognize, interpret and interact appropriately in different social situations.
Crozier & Tincani (2007) tell us that “a ‘social story’ is a short story written for an individual. The story describes a specific activity and the behavioral expectations associated with that activity.” You can also create a story to introduce ‘novel’ events such as Holiday gatherings, birthday parties, or other new or unfamiliar events.
For first-time Social Stories, consider that if you are going to take your child to the park, you could create a little story to show them what to do or expect to see there. Or, here is an example of what the authors used as ‘Social Story’ text for a preschool boy who was mostly reclusive, but wanted to find friends and learn how to ask for snacks, during school snacktime.
We have snacktime at school
Friends talk & share snacks
Some friends say “Hi”
Some friends ask for a drink
Some friends ask for more snacks
I can ask for a drink
I can ask for more snacks
I can say “Hi” to my friends
Friends are happy when we talk at snacktime!
Verbal Prompts can be added for role playing or rehearsing this social activity.
- Hi, my name is Daniel
- May I sit here?
- I would like a snack
The authors commented that many children need to have pictures added to the story, these can be real-time or Clip Art. Also, many need to have verbal prompts added for emphasis and to increase success.
Children with autism or autism-like behavior take in a lot more of what’s going on around them than parents are aware of. They often use peripheral vision to watch your every move, but you’ll never catch them looking at you. So, create this Social Story within his or her view. Best of all scenarios would be to have them choose a picture or assist you in some way, however small. Of course, the latest twist on Carol Gray’s Social Stories is the APP available so that you can create, present, and store your child’s stories on your iPad or iPhone.
NEXT: Social Stories (Part 3 of 3).