There are four stages to writing a Social Story™
1. Identify the goal
2. Gather the information
3. Structure the sentences
So if we are going to identify the goal we may need to ask some important questions such as:
• What social information is the child missing or misunderstanding?
• Is there a desired change in behaviour we would like to achieve?
• Is there something we would like to teach the child?
The information we need to gather is:
• What reading level is the child and how much information can they process in one go?
• Do they have any interests that will engage and motivate them?
• What, When, Where, How, Why is the situation happening (it is so worth taking time to observe and find out the real reason why – see Carol Gray’s video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjlIYYbVIrI#t=184 for examples)
We can then structure the sentences and this is the point where everyone panics!
There are three basic sentence types and then _ more that enhance these as you write more complex Social Stories™.
The first are DESCRIPTIVE sentences – they are like the beginning of a story – they set the scene and are objective, factual and say what the situation is. Here are some examples…
• My name is Bob and I usually go to cubs on Mondays.
• On Fridays we usually go shopping.
• When my nose itches I like to pick out the bogeys and play with them in my fingers.
• In my class there are lots of children and we each have a chair to sit on.
• On Friday my granddad died. I will not see him again.
The second are PERSPECTIVE sentences – they are like the middle of the story – they explain and answer the why in terms of what other people’s perspectives might be in the situation. Here are some examples…
• Other people don’t like seeing bogeys from people’s noses.
• Some children in my class like to have gravy on their potatoes.
• If someone is hit it hurts them and they might cry.
• When someone dies people can feel very upset and might cry.
Thirdly there are DIRECTIVE sentences. Be sparing with these because they are like the end of a story, the conclusion; the way forward. They suggest rather than insist and give the child options that are appropriate for the situation (it is great when children can contribute to these).
• I can remember to blow my nose so the bogeys can go in the tissue.
• I can choose not to have gravy on my potatoes.
• When we go shopping I can take my Ipod and listen to my music while we walk around the shop.
• If I don’t want to play I can try to suggest a different game.
• If the teacher doesn’t pick me I can try to remember that I will have a turn another time.
In with all these sentences there should be AFFIRMATIVE sentences. These are confirmations, encouragements and reassurances that can be added to any of the above sentences. Here are some examples…
• It is okay / good / great / brilliant.
• That is a safe thing to do.
• You can do it.
• It is a great idea.
So this is your task for this post – here is a simple Social Story™. See if you can identify the different types of sentences.
Everybody can have a turn
My name is _______and I am in Year 3.
In my class there are lots of other children and me. Sometimes my teacher wants to choose children to do something at the front of class, choose a star of the day or give out a sticker or choose children to help her do things. (DESCRIPTIVE) This is good. (AFFIRMATIVE)
All the children in the class like to help our teacher and be chosen by her to do one of these things.! My teacher knows that all the children want to be chosen. She knows that I want to be chosen. (PERSPECTIVE)
I can try to be patient and wait until it is my turn. (DIRECTIVE)
The teacher likes to be fair and give all the children a chance to help her or be chosen. This means that different children are chosen every day. Sometimes it will be me, sometimes it will not be me but someone else. (DESCRIPTIVE)
This is ok. (AFFIRMATIVE) I can try not to be upset when I am not chosen. It is a great idea to say “well done” and smile at the children who are chosen. (DIRECTIVE)
This is being happy for them and good manners. I like being kind to other children and they like being kind to me. Then when it is my turn to be chosen the other children will be happy for me. (PERSPECTIVE)
I am brilliant! Well done me! (AFFIRMATIVE)
(NB. All social stories are written for an individual and personal to them. I write them with the child whenever I can. The examples in this blog have all been successful with the particular child they were written for. I would also usually have more visual pictures or symbols but they are difficult to replicate – more about that in the next part.)