What and Why:
Social stories are stories created to teach specific social skills or behaviors. They are individualized and help the student adjust to changes in routine and prepare them for the social situation by providing cues and examples of what is socially appropriate behaviors for the given situation.
Materials will depend on the vehicle used to present the story. Stories can be created as a word document or slide show, printed and put together as an actual book or can be created in those applications and presented electronically on the computer or ipad to increase a student’s interest. There are also applications that can be downloaded and used to create and review social stories on the ipad (e.g Pictello, iCommunicate, ConnectABILITY, story kit).
How and When to Implement:
Identify the social behavior or expectation for change.
- When addressing a behavior, present the social story prior to when the behavior will occur.
- Define the target behavior or skill so that it is observable and measurable. The observable and measureable behavior should describe what a student should†do†, not what the student should not do.
- Write the story use age/development appropriate language and sentence length, decide writing style (first or second person), and how many sentences on a page.
- Include visuals appropriate for the student’s age/developmental level. This may include using real pictures of the student and his/her environment to make it more meaningful and relevant to the student.
- Implement the use of the social story as a regular part of the student’s daily schedule.
- Promote generalization of the target skill by adding peers and over time fade the social story (increasing the time between readings, silently read story).
Things to Consider/Problem Solving:
- Keep stories short. Include visuals.
- Monitor. If adjustments are needed, change one thing at a time.
- Stories should use positive language and describe what to do as opposed to what not to do.
- Stories should include words like, sometimes and usually when a situation is not guaranteed.
- If you are not seeing progress with a social story consider looking again at what the function of the behavior is to make sure the story addresses the correct skill/behavior.
Useful Resources to Learn More:
For more detailed information on different types of sentences to use when writing social stories:
Click to return to Best Practices for Supporting Students with Autism
Information compiled by Lincoln Public Schools Autism Team (September 2015)