A social story is a positive comforting approach to teaching social cues and guiding or changing behavior. Social stories can help our children deal with and discover peace in situations they find difficult. They also allow them to say things in a creative and unconventional way. Social stories have proven helpful for many people with autism and other disabilities.
A basic rule for social stories is to use only positive language. The story explains what the person should do in a situation. It does not say which behaviors the person should not do. For example, say “I walk down the hall” instead of “I do not run down the hall.”
Social stories have different types of sentences and an exact ratio for using each type. PBIS World offers some excellent examples of these different sentence types. There are other websites that cover this as well and they are easy to find – just Google “social story sentence types.”
Social stories can be written for an individual child. You can even use the child’s name as the main character of the story. They can also be written more generically by using the words “the children” or “the girl” or “the boy.” Another idea is to use a common name for the main character so that lots of people can read the story and relate to the main character.
A parent can buy a variety of social stories online or find apps that have some social stories already created. You can Google common situations and find social stories. Just Google “meeting new people social story” or “saying sorry social story.”
You may choose to create a social story for your child. You can type the story in a Word document, add photos from your camera or from the Internet and print it out. Or, you can create a digital story on PowerPoint or other software. There are many online examples to guide parents.
By reading or hearing the social story many times, your child can learn an appropriate way to respond. When a parent knows their child will soon face the situation, they can read the social story together so it is fresh on their mind. Many parents find it helpful to have a collection of social stories for different situations.
When a child is old enough, they can help write the social story about a situation that concerns them.
There are many good websites that provide information about and support for writing social stories. Check out these social story sites to get started:
Find more resources for helping your child with behavior on this website under Behavioral Problems in Children with Disabilities.