Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#ASD’

3 Ways to Disciple Adults with Learning Disabilities

  1. Reach
  2. Grow
  3. Send

This is the ministry statement of our church, you can see more about it here. It seems simple…and maybe we do make it more complicated than it needs to be.  This year we are seriously praying about and exploring how we disciple our adults with learning disabilities.

Reaching

We don’t run our Good News Group through the school holidays, except for a BBQ that we are having on Wednesday. People miss it, but it also gives us as leaders, time to reflect and seek God for his plans for the coming year. When we took on the role of leaders (unexpectedly!) Bob, Gill and I agreed that we could not do it without a sense of God’s vision for the ministry.  The first indication from God was to “reach out”.  At the time we were concerned,  each of us had commitments and other ministries that gave us very little time or opportunity to get out and about into our community, but we prayed… Thy Will be Done.

Growing

What we have seen is God building a ministry that is reaching out in ways we could not imagine in those early days.  This blog and my website – www.reachoutasc.com with resources that people can use is part of that, along with the Disability Network we have helped set up.  It seems like God’s intention has been for us to reach out to other churches and support them in their inclusive ministries…and there is more of that to come.

This summer God has been leading us to pray more and more about growing disciples.  We have high expectations of God’s Word in our Bible teaching, we share and teach the Gospel and spend much of our time helping our members understand God’s Word.  It is a joy to see how how members are growing in their knowledge and response to the Bible.

We already spend a good portion of our time sitting with our members individually and in small groups to talk with them about putting God’s word into practice in their lives.  We have prayed with them and taught them how to pray.  We listen to their problems and issues and help them apply God’s word to those.  We encourage those that are able, to read the Bible for themselves (the Prospects booklets have been helpful for this, especially as they also come in a CD version for those who can’t read – see below) So far, this has been our experience of growing disciples.

But a new hunger is welling up inside us to explore making disciples in a much deeper way.  I am currently chatting to our vicar about discipleship, and looking at how we can adapt and apply the principles and practices to our group.  We would like to start with some small group or 1:1 Bible study where the participants have more opportunity to contribute and do some self study.  The challenge is finding material that is either adaptable or has already been written with adults with learning disabilities in mind.  We have done some in the past, using a variety of resources.  One of these is the Easy English version of the Bible Click here to go to it, which is accessible online.  It has been really useful to us in preparing our weekly teaching sessions but most of our group do not have access to the internet and so it isn’t very accessible to them!  I’m quite excited about Biblical’s plant produce an accessible Bible, in partnership with Torch Trust, Prospects and Urban Saints and will be writing a blog post for them soon. You can see an article about it here…

Sending

This should be a natural extension of our discipling.  If we are growing strong, confident believers, then they should be able to go out and talk to others about Jesus, whether that is within the other church ministries, such as the children work, to the other residents and carers who share their homes, or actually getting involved in missions further afield.  This is something that will be wonderful to explore.  We have begun but there may be much more we can explore as we reach out, grow disciples and see where the Lord takes these wonderful people we have the privilege to be joined in faith with.  We don’t want to see their disability as a barrier or a limitation, but as a gift and opportunity to reach others for Jesus.

What are your experiences of growing and discipling children and adults with learning disabilities, or with autism?

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Letting God build the ministry.

In January 2014 I wrote this post “ASC What’s That?”  about starting up my own business in supporting children with Autism in schools.   Part of my motivation was to get out of a stifling education system that crushed my ideas and creativity and give myself space to get involved in disability ministry more and more.  I was crushed, but not defeated; demoralised, but not without hope. I stepped out from all the pressure and condemnation into a world where all I had was a lot of ideas, buckets of enthusiasm and a need to start earning a wage very quickly.

My company – Reachout ASC

I hit the ground running and have hardly stopped for breath since.  I have learned how to actually think like a business, had a website made and am supporting nearly 20 schools regularly with over 500 people having attended training that I have delivered.  Not only to schools but family support charities, churches and a children’s work conference in sunny Eastbourne.   I was so keen to bring my ministry and work life together so that I could feel fully ‘me’ in all that I do.

I have been really encouraged by a Lou Fellingham song Build this House (listen here).  It says  “Unless you build this house, I am building it in vain.  Unless the work is yours there is nothing to be gained.”  (C) Lou Fellingham.   In any kind of job and ministry that is starting something, or moving something on, we can only build what God has planned.

Although God seems to be pressing on with things!  As well as my business growing so that I am taking on two more autism specialist teachers so that we can support more schools, I am whizzing around the county talking to Head Teachers, SENCOs, Speech and Language Therapists and teachers about our service and hopefully helping a few more children with Autism and Asperger’s have a successful time in school.   I now have a Facebook page here, full of articles and ideas about autism;  am active in the Twitter education and SEN community; (Follow me here @ReachoutASC ) and I am writing a book about supporting pupils with ASC in secondary schools.   I LOVE MY JOB!

My website! Please have a look.

My website! Please have a look.

I have always had a love of learning.  And I am learning so much that I am able to convert into action in church too.  I have set up a churches tab on my website and will continue to add new resources.

The Good News Group

We continue to run our weekly meeting for the adults with learning disabilities in our community.  We are seeing spiritual growth in so many as we let God lead us in discipling them.  We’ve had a brilliant Puppet workshop from One Way UK and a revamp of our activities during our social time (I think we were all getting a bit bored of the same things) and have just sorted a load of boxes with activities suggested by our members.  We weren’t bothered about age appropriateness when they asked for sensory toys, playdough and duplo!  It’s going to be fun for all of us to play together as adults.  We’ve also got some picture Bible’s to read, Bible colouring and some more crafts, jigsaws and games.   The group is just like I would love church to be for everyone.  Full of joy, love and freindship whatever your abiliity.   However, we have all the issues and trauma’s as any other ministry group might have and have recently had a bereavement.    We are feeling really sad about it, but we have hope in knowing that a lovely, quiet man who loved the Good News Group and liked to pray, is now with our Saviour Jesus.

One Way UK Puppet workshop

One Way UK Puppet workshop

This lady is our jigsaw whizz!

This lady is our jigsaw whizz!

Lancashire Disability Network

The Lancashire Churches Disability Network went really well.  With the support of Tim Wood from Through the Roof, we had over 40 people at our first meeting.  The buzz and enthusiasm was fantastic and we are praying once again….God build this house, or we are building it in vain.  The next meeting is in a couple of weeks and already, one church is making plans to set up their own group for adults with learning disabilities.  People want to find things out, share experiences and learn together.  I AM REALLY EXCITED AND GRATEFUL.  This group has been two years in the praying, planning and waiting.  I have learned some patience…………
I am grateful too for you who have read, shared and supported this blog.  Keep on sharing, commenting and looking where God wants you to build his house.  

We should be more flexible to include those with Additional Needs.

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I sometimes wonder who is more rigid…the child with autism that I am supporting, or the school system (and people in that system) that I am trying to support them in?

In my work with autistic children in mainstream schools, I have found that those staff and schools who are most flexible, are better and more successful for those who have autism.

For  example, writing… Our whole education system is based on children being able and willing to write.  One aspect of autism is the need to see the point in what they are doing.  (A logical strength) However, the amount of writing demanded in every subject is enormous, and only increases with each school year as the demands of the curriculum get harder.  This is all well and good but what if writing and composing what you want to say is really hard?  What if you have trouble organising your thoughts and imagining what something might be like? What if you don’t understand the point of copying something out of a book, or writing things in whole sentences instead of giving the actual answer?

I have had some success with persuading teachers to be more flexible and allow pupils with ASC to write about things that are interesting and relevant to them.  Along with being allowed to type rather than hand write, for some.  Often this provides the motivation and relevance to write that the child needs and they usually develop more confidence, skills and academic progress.  To be honest, teachers are often relieved that I have given them permission to be more flexible and thrilled when it starts to engage the child in writing.  I once had a child writing about BeastQuest for the whole of year 5. By the end of the year he had progressed two levels and was more willing to have a go at other forms of writing. From writing almost nothing, by the end of the year he was writing full BeastQuest stories that he sent to the publishers!

I get cross that our education system has so stifled teachers creativity and flexibility that I have to give them permission, written out in a way that justifies what we are doing, just to allow a child to work within their interests for a while! Teachers feel under pressure to be seen to be doing the right thing, can be criticised for being creative while at the same time criticised for not being! It is the sad truth of our education and inspection system.

 However much I could go on about this (and it is based on experience not just opinion!) it is to churches I want to apply it. 

The Gymnast/Yoga: Back Arch/The Wheel/Chakrasana

Why do you do what you do? Is it because you’ve always done it that way? Will someone criticise you if you be a bit flexible or change things?

When including people with autism or any kind of disability we need to stretch ourselves and really think about being flexible.  I’m not criticising any one church but just drawing together my understanding of the experiences that people with disabilities have had in churches.  As with schools, the most successful are those who look at their members and adapt to their needs.  We don’t need to change the gospel message or the Bible to do this, but the way we communicate, illustrate and welcome people into God’s family can be very flexible.

It is quite realistic to suggest that there might be people who are on the autistic spectrum in your church. Many of them could be undiagnosed adults. There will be people who have hearing difficulties, sight or mobility problems. People who are dyslexic, colour blind or have mental illness.  All of these could impact on the way they access the rituals and teaching in your church. I’m not just talking about a ‘traditional’ church either.  I visited a lively church recently that insisted everyone stood up, danced and waved their arms about. The noise from the band was VERY loud and they played background music over EVERYTHING. Even the sermon.  I was completely overloaded, but many others were having a great time. Conversely, a quiet, traditional service can be really hard to follow with the antique language and unspoken ‘rules’ of when to sit, stand, kneel, respond.

So how do we be flexible in our churches?  One thing I love is that there are many different styles to choose from in most towns and cities.  In rural areas there may only be one small church for miles.  So for a person with additional needs, or a family with children with additional needs, it can take them some time and stress finding one that is suitable and comfortable for them. I know many who have given up after visiting one or two churches where they did not feel welcome.  The place and people expected them to fit in with their rituals and systems. They were rigid.  The families and individuals with additional needs were expected to be the flexible ones.

But the emphasis should be on us, in our churches, being flexible enough to change things.  Take communion for example. Do we have to go up to the front? Even taking it to someone in a wheelchair makes them different.  What if we took it to everyone where they are sat, so the wheelchair user feels part of it too?

We are challenged by this ourselves, in the Good News Group.  Our members needs are varied and wide and making them part of the church is something we work on together.  We are open to challenge and to change in our practices and we grow together in faith and as a church family as a result.  The only thing we don’t change is the Gospel Message and the Bible.  We have a routine, which is important, but even that is flexible too.

I hope schools and churches will be more flexible.  Don’t hold on to things “just because”.  Question and challenge yourself…WHY do we do this, in that way? Could it be more inclusive, and more meaningful?

I sincerely hope this helps you think about this.  Please do comment and tell me your experiences.  It’s an ongoing issues that we all are continually challenged by.  In schools, churches and society.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:23-24

And don’t forget to follow my new Facebook page, with lots of great autism and related articles  Reachout ASC – autism Support

And my website which is REALLY filling up with great stuff  www.reachoutasc.com  – like and share as much as you like!

Passionate about Autism

autism

Don’t ask me why…I can’t really answer that. I don’t have a child or family member with autism, and so much of the excellent research and writing about autism is done by people who are directly affected by the condition.

…but me…I just ‘get it’. I can only say it is like God has planted this seed in my heart and mind and it is growing strong and healthy, without me having a say in it at all!  If I have a calling, it is autism shaped.  If I have a ministry planned by God, then he has equipped me with the knowledge and understanding to do his will.

“Autism is a lifelong condition, which affects how a person communicates, interacts socially, and can present difficulties or differences for the person in their thinking, imagination, perception and sensitivity of their senses.

As a spectrum condition, individuals with autism will share similar difficulties; however the way in which autism will impact on the individual is unique, with no two people with the condition being exactly the same.”

I use these statements at the beginning of the training I do for schools, charities, churches and anyone who wants to hear about autism. I then break it down to explain to people what life just might be like for someone with autism in the areas of communication, social understanding, thinking and perspective, and sensory experience. Over the years I’ve known and worked with children and people with autism / Asperger’s.  I am fascinated by their perspective on the world and how the typical way others do and assume things, can cause them much confusion and anxiety.

Screen-Shot-2013-10-14-at-9.31.36-PM

I also have met some deep thinking, kind, generous and amazing people with autism. I have worked with children who cannot speak and whose communication has been through their behaviour. It is true, that there is no such thing as autistic behaviour…even at the point where no challenging behaviour shocks me any more, I can see that it is all just human behaviour.

I love to explain to people that there are things they can do to make life and school better for people with autism, and in my experience it begins with knowing what autism is.  I love to see the ‘penny drop’ or the ‘lightbulb moment’ (meaning the point of really understanding that people with autism see and experience the world differently) because this leads to better relationships between teachers and their autistic pupils; parents and their autistic children; and people with their autistic friends and neighbours.

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I have some general principles that I know work when it comes to strategies. These must always be adapted for the individual and where possible INCLUDE the person with autism in the strategy.  This is not about doing something ‘to’ someone…it is about coming alongside, teaching, supporting and enabling a person to organise and mange their difficulties themselves. We need to listen to the voice, the views and the needs of each individual person with autism whilst teaching them things that enable them to be independent and stand up for themselves.  We also need to understand that inclusion is the responsibility of all of us, working together to be the unit we are (family, school class, social group, church, friends, etc).

autism2

Some of the work that I love the most is with teenagers with autism/Aspergers in schools. I often work 1:1 or in small groups working through who they are and what autism is to them.  I often teach the child how to understand themselves, celebrate their strengths and know that everyone has weaknesses. i learn so much from them too.  I often use a book called  “I AM SPECIAL” by Peter Vermulen and recently had the pleasure of meeting him at a conference. I showed him the work I had been doing and he was very impressed.  In his email to me he said

” Thank you very much for your kind words and the very illustrative pictures. They are proof of the fact that you really understood the philosophy behind “I am Special” and that, on top of that, you are a talented, knowledgeable and creative teacher / consultant.”

and to be honest, that was such a thrill to me after years of feeling I was never good enough in the education system.

Autism is not going away.  Children and adults with autism make up at least 1% of our population and this statistic is growing as more people get diagnosed and professional realise that girls and women have different features of autism that are only just being recognised.

As a Christian, I know God invites everyone into his kingdom. Learning how to communicate well with people with autism and listen to their individual and general views of the world, I am learning to communicate the gospel much clearer too.  We have put many good communication strategies in place in our weekly group for adults with learning disabilties (some who have autism/Asperger’s) and I long to teach these to other churches too.  I think it is early days, I think I can learn a lot from others who are autistic and/or advise churches about autism too. What I bring to the table is having known hundreds of children of all different ages with autism/Asperger’s over the past 10 years, I have a wealth of experience and practical strategies that have worked to build up the skills, acceptance and postive attitiudes of the children I have worked with.  I have trained many teachers, social workers, support workers, parents and others – equipping them with knowledge and resources to make school, home and other places more accessible and successful for people with autism.  Even years later, I still get feedback when people say how they learned so much from the training and that the strategies are still working!

a.u.t.i.s.m.

I am stating facts here. Not to blow my own trumpet but to communicate that my passion for autism has a purpose in God’s Kingdom. I could ignore it, use it to make money, neglect it – but as with any passion from God – it is a gift to be nurtured, treasured and used for His will.  I am very glad I am only one of many. It shows that God loves all people and he loves me too.

I am very glad I know that. I hope you do too…

And finally, this is for my wonderful friends who love their autistic children so much…

quote

We’re in Christianity Magazine!

Christianity-Magazine-August-2014-Cover_large

We are very excited. The buzz of anticipation has been growing for weeks as we knew it was going to happen! And today it did!
Back in February, Sarah Lothian, journalist and writer, travelled up to attend one of our Good News Group http://wp.me/P2MVJu-6n meetings and interviewed some of our members and serving team.
And now, in the August edition, her 1000 words about our ministry has finally appeared and we couldn’t be more pleased. You can find it here…http://www.premierchristianity.com/Current-Issue

So if you have read this and decided to investigate the link to this blog here are some of my favourite posts that I think give an overview of our passion to teach the Bible to adults with learning disabilities well, to build our members up as disciples of Jesus and contributors to the body of Christ and to deal with some of the difficult issues that this and any ministry might come across.

You can get in touch with comments and questions at includedbygrace@talktalk.net

  1.  _45233302_f238da6b-d622-47fe-9753-72aba54ab2c3I did a series of posts about the different BARRIERS people with learning disabilities can face    “Barriers” http://wp.me/s2MVJu-barriers  “Barriers 2” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4t  “Barriers 3” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4C  “Barriers 4”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4H  “Barriers 5”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8I
  2. IMG_0223 This lead to a couple of posts about how we can communicate well to people with learning disabilities: “A model of God’s communication” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4U , “Explaining ‘sin'” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8y
  3. IMG_0214 I’ve done some posts about our teaching the Bible sessions and topics.  From creation to revelation we don’t want to leave out any part of the word (although we haven’t got through all of it yet!!!!)  Judges: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-80  Creation: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8q  Christmas: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-mb  Noah to Jesus: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-ok  Peter: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-p1
  4. MP900390083 These post cover some of the issues we’ve had to deal with such as discipling, prayer life and discord: “Washing up and a one-legged puppet”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-bC  “Enabling PLD to be active in prayer”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8b  “Age-Appropriateness” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-5e   “Adult’s behaving badly”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-mD  “Whose choice is it?” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-oP
  5. gold-panning I write a lot.  Here are some articles and stories I have written… “Life’s not fair…Ecclesiastes and Wisdom”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-p8  “Panning for Gold and being honest with God” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-oF  and finally my short story,  “She danced for Him.”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-m6

Do take the time to look at some of these, make comments and please do return.  We’d love comments about the article and to know about your stories of working with people with learning disabilities in church too!   We are putting together our teaching materials to publish and share with others so if you are interested in learning about these, get in touch.

God bless you all.

Rejoice in the Lord, good people!
    It is only right for good people to praise him.
Play the lyre and praise the Lord.
    Play the ten-stringed harp for him.
Sing a new song[a] to him.
    Play it well and sing it loud!
The Lord’s word is true,
    and he is faithful in everything he does.
He loves goodness and justice.
    The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth.
The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made.
    The breath from his mouth created everything in the heavens.
He gathered together the water of the sea.
    He put the ocean in its place.
Everyone on earth should fear and respect the Lord.
    All the people in the world should fear him,
because when he speaks, things happen.
    And if he says, “Stop!”—then it stops.[b]
10 The Lord can ruin every decision the nations make.
    He can spoil all their plans.
11 But the Lord’s decisions are good forever.
    His plans are good for generation after generation.
12 Great blessings belong to those who have the Lord as their God!
    He chose them to be his own special people.
13 The Lord looked down from heaven
    and saw all the people.
14 From his high throne he looked down
    at all the people living on earth.
15 He created every person’s mind,
    and he knows what each one is doing.
16 A king is not saved by the power of his army.
    A soldier does not survive by his own great strength.
17 Horses don’t really bring victory in war.
    Their strength cannot help you escape.
18 The Lord watches over his followers,
    those who wait for him to show his faithful love.
19 He saves them from death.
    He gives them strength when they are hungry.
20 So we will wait for the Lord.
    He helps us and protects us.
21 He makes us happy.
    We trust his holy name.
22 Lord, we worship you,
    so show your great love for us.

Psalm 33 – Easy English Version    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+33&version=ERV

Writing Social Stories™ Part 4 (final part)

Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-ng    Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-nj    Part 3 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-nv

Part 4 : How to present a Social Story™.
There are important factors to take into account when you have gathered your information and drafted a story – the age and ability of the child and how much text they can cope with.
With all ages – short sentences work best.

1. For very young or non-reading children the pictures in a story become the main access point for them into the story. You may only need one idea / sentence per page and the text becomes the script for the adult reading the story (so that you say the same thing each time you read it.)  For illustration, photos work best.  These pages would be arranged as a book so one page can be read at a time.

Going to Playgroup     going home!

2. For older children – it is better to space out the text, use pictures or symbols that support the text well.   This is where I might use symbols such as Communicate in Print from Widgit  http://www.widgit.com or Boardmaker but google and clipart, as long as they are meaningful to the child are good too.

Doctors

Spiders

3. For teens and very able children – the visuals can still be very important but they need to be appropriate. At this stage the key is to CHUNK the information – and I often use boxes around chunks of text as well as pictures to separate the paragraph.

Doing a test

 

Once you have the story written – read it and read it again. Check it sounds clear, literal and that the child has something positive to do or learn…and then you are ready for reading it to the child. Add some reference to the child’s favourite things if you can.  In fact one of my most recent successful Social Stories was based on an Arsenal player and how he kept his kit tidy in the changing room! We wanted the child to do the same and he responded straight away…he really wanted to be like his favourite player!

Introduce it when things are calm and quiet. Read it with the child in a place they can feel calm and stay still. Read it regularly and if the child is not interested try again but don’t show any anxiety and maybe link it to a favoured activity afterwards.

If you have done your research, written it carefully and written it in a form that is accessible to the child – then usually the child will engage with it. Don’t force anything. It will work if it will work. I will confess, I find them more successful with children in juniors and high school than I do with younger children but I have used them for all ages. The key is to pitch it right for the child’s interests and level of understanding.

I have had many successes with Social Stories™. From encouraging a child to reduce nose picking to helping a child deal with the death and funeral of his dad, they are extremely versatile, positive and effective resources.

Finally – here are a couple of examples of real stories that really helped.  (Due to my rubbish tech skills I haven’t added all the symbols I used to a general picture. If you were to write a similar story then you would use maybe more pictures or symbols that were meaningful to your child.)

Travelling in the car

seatbelt

When I am going somewhere, sometimes I have to travel in the car.

My mum or dad will be driving and I will sit in one of the passenger seats.

When I get into the car I will sit in my seat and fasten the seatbelt around me.

This will keep my body safe. It is good to wear a seatbelt.

I will sit in my seat with my seatbelt on until we get to where we are going and my mum or dad says

“Katy you can get out now.”

I can read my book or play on my Ipad until we get to where we are going.

It is good to be safe in the car. I will try to be quiet while my mum or dad is driving.

Then they can concentrate on driving safely and this will make them happy.

Mum and dad will be pleased with me if I try to stay quiet and calm and keep my seatbelt on.

Saying Goodbye to my Dad.

My name is_______. I am________.   I go to ___________ Primary School.

My grandad was very poorly and now he has gone to heaven. This means he is in a very good place where we can’t see him any more.

We will have a special day where my family and my dad’s friends can say goodbye to my grandad. This is called a funeral.

People will come to my house. My grandad had a lot of friends so there may be a lot of people, like at the party.

This is what will happen on that day

First

Then

Then

Finally

On this special day there will be a special box with flowers on to help us remember my grandad.   There will be a photograph of my grandad on the box.

People might feel sad and might cry. This is ok.   If I feel sad I can

If my mum is sad other people will help her. I could give her a hug. She would like that.

When the special Goodbye ceremony is finished my family will be my mum, my dad, me and my brother. We will be able to talk about my grandad but he will not be with us each day. We can remember him by looking at photos and talking about the things we did with him. This will be good and help us all feel better.

Afterwards some things will stay the same like –

Some things will be different like –

I can remember that at school I can talk to my teachers about how I am feeling. They will help me talk about what makes me sad and help me feel better.   This is really good.

 

 

 

Writing Social Stories™ Part 3

Picture6

There are four stages to writing a Social Story™
1. Identify the goal
2. Gather the information
3. Structure the sentences
4. Implement

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.

everyone taking turn

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.)

 

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