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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.