Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Pad of Paper & Pen

In my day job as an Autism Specialist teacher, I write a lot of Social Stories™.

Many people I come across have heard of them and have even been told by professionals they should be using them, but what never ceases to amaze me is no-one then tells them exactly what a Social Story™ is and HOW to write one.  That’s why for years I’ve been running courses to teach the how.

Carol Gray of invented them.  The definition on her website is…

A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. Half of all Social Stories™ developed should affirm something that an individual does well. Although the goal of a Story™ should never be to change the individual’s behavior, that individual’s improved understanding of events and expectations may lead to more effective responses.

There is a great video by Carol herself on You Tube  and her book

Social Stories™ should be:

  • Positive and affirmative
  • Written in first person but negative behaviours in third person
  • Have illustrations that enhance the words
  • Follow the correct structure so that it is balanced right
  • Describe, give a social perspective and suggest appropriate responses or actions
  • Needs to explain things carefully so if they are read literally they are still understood.

Social Stories™ are just one strategy of many that can support children with autism to make sense of the world.  The point that they are NOT to tell a person off or change an undesired behaviour is very important. Unless they are relevant, engaging and motivating to the child then they are useless.

I have read some terrible examples in the past.  I am going to start with an example of what a Social Story™ is NOT. This is based on real examples but is an amalgamation of a few – just for illustration.

Don’t hurt others at playtimes.

               Rosy, you have been hurting   other children at playtimes.

     This is wrong. If you hurt other   children they will tell the

      teacher on duty and you will have to go   inside and sit

      outside the head teachers room. You   MUST not be too

     rough in the playground.  It is up to the big children to

                stop and check themselves   from time to time to make

       sure they are playing nicely. If you   do this your

       teacher and your mum and dad will be   pleased and you

      can stay at our school.


So… what would you say is wrong with this…have a think and my next post will give you some answers!

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