Monday, May 3, 2010

Social Stories: Behavioral lessons

In response to the discussion on @thecoffeeklatch I am resposting this blog to help understand how to write social stories and teach social behaviors.

An interesting thought happened earlier this morning, I had been skimming boards and reading the questions people were talking about when I happened along to a discussion about the purpose of social stories. It's interesting how you can forget such a fundamental tool in helping your children. I guess that once you stop using a tool and move on to the next step that is what you concentate on. However, social stories are such a quintessential aspect of helping these children learn to function I felt that I should address how and when and why to use them.

Because ASD children have trouble learning behavior short helpful stories help them to understand how ,why and when to behave. I remember that my younger one even had a soicals stories "bible" that he carried with him from year to year. This was a binder full of his social stories that had been created every year whenever the teachers deemed it necessary for him to need a little extra help. It was added to when necessary. They even had him decorate the binder so it was entirely his. The stories covered everything from what to do when you came into class in the morning, how to walk int he hall, what to do in art/ music, ect, how to raise your hand, what to do when you get upset, how to ask someone to play with you, to name just a few stories.

How to write a social story. Is it an art? A really well written story works wonders. It is important that you keep it short, to the point and very positive. For example:

You need to walk in line with the other children.
Line up behind your friends in class at the door
You and your friends will walk in line quietly to the art class
You will then sit down in your seat in art class and create your art project
If you walk in line and are quiet in the hall you will go to art class
Everyone will be real proud of you and you will have fun

If it needs to be shorter then make it shorter. If you are dealing with a truely precocious child then add more explanation. There are wonderful books and websites on the subject. Some of the websites listed on this blog will have books on social stories. There is also a website that I have never used, but that parents seem to really like, . Also don't forget that if your child cannot read then pictures or cartooning the social story is just as helpful. There are also plenty of books on how to create these stories as well.

Now the interesting thing that I realized is that as they get older the need for social stories and how they are used changes. While the "bible" was helpful through middle school, once he reached a certain age, there was no way he was going to carry it with him. They tried to keep it in some of his clasees but he would have nothing to do with it. It was passe, it was part of that baby world that he was leaving and would not be part of his tween years or I figured the years of adolescence.
So what do we do now. We actually try ot explain to him what the issues are and talk to him.

But I think in reality we still do use some form of the social story we just don't call it that. We write up behavior lists, lists created to remember self-help tools, lists of what to bring with you to school, lists, lists, lists. There is a white board in his office that holds a list of chores and it actually used to have a behavior chart on it for how he talked to me and interacted with his brother. You don't have to explain to him the reason for certain expectations anymore, that is just understood. that this is how society functions Now in fact we can just give him a lesson.

One of the recent lessons had to do with knowing the boundaries in boy/girl friendships. Yep, my teenage aspie is girl crazy. He has a huge crush, won't tell us who, but considering the two girls he purposely tries to interact with all the time in school we have a general idea. Even the school is really interested in finding out (apart from the life skills lesson involved, everyone thinks its just real cute and oh so age appropriate). But adults for all teeneagers are soooooo embarrassing. So no names, no way, no how.

Until next tiem,