It is often very frustrating when there are barriers in communication, particularly for those who have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Due to these barriers, often those with ASD struggle to understand social rules or develop appropriate social skills. Social Stories have been developed to try and support those with High-Functioning ASD in understanding these rules. Since they were first developed by Carol Gray (1991), social stories have long been considered an evidence based method to help communicate social rules to those who have ASD, often showing good outcomes in improving social skills for individuals with ASD (Singleton, 2016).
Social stories aim to replace the social skills that those with ASD do not have. These are closely linked to the Theory of Mind, which is our ability to understand and guess the thoughts of others. Baron-Cohen suggested that individuals with ASD struggled to understand the perspectives of others, due to mindblindness or a lack of Theory of Mind. Social stories aim to help individuals with ASD to understand this perspective of others, and help them in gaining these social skills.
Where can social stories be used?
Social stories have been found to be effective in many contexts! They have been successfully used in mainstream schools (Marshall, et al., 2016) and by mothers of children with ASD (Acar, Tekin-Iftar & Yikmis, 2017). They can be written by anyone if you follow the guidelines.
Social stories have been used for many different situations. They can be written and personalised for almost anything, some children may have several different ones depending on their needs. Some examples are:
- Waiting in Line
- Washing and cleaning themselves
- Shouting in class
- Getting anxious with a new teacher
- Doing work
- Staying away from roads
- Being nice to friends
How to write a social story:
Social stories are usually very short, and focused on one specific aim. They should usually be written in first person or using the child’s name. This is to help the child identify with what they are reading. They should also be written in present tense.
To learn more about the detailed steps required for writing Social Stories, download our FREE ebook ‘How to write Social Stories’ here.
- I live by a very busy road.
- I must walk past the road every day, and sometimes I see something that upsets or scares me.
- When I get upset or scared, I run away and go into the road.
- It is okay that I get scared, but I cannot run into the road.
- If I run into the road I could get hurt by a car.
- It scares my mom when I run away.
- I will try not to run away when I get scared.
- Instead I will tell my mom I am scared and we will walk away.
Acar, C., Tekin-Iftar, E., & Yikmis, A. (2017). Effects of Mother-Delivered Social Stories and Video Modeling in Teaching Social Skills to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Journal of Special Education, 50(4), 215-226.
Marshall, D., Wright, B., Allgar, V., Adamson, J., Williams, C., Ainsworth, H., & Ali, S. (2016). Social Stories in mainstream schools for children with autism spectrum disorder: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. BMJ open, 6(8), e011748.
Singleton, A. (2016). The Effectiveness of Social Stories in Increasing Social Skills in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.