Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Social Stories, Purpose and Use

Social stories are a necessary tool in educating children on the autism spectrum. They are short and succinct outlines about behavior, events and even educational information. It must be understood that the autistic brain does not function as a neurotypical brain and certain issues need to be specifically related to our children.


In fact when CM2 was in elementary through middle school he had a social stories bible that he carried with him, that he would read every morning before school. These were an accumulation of stories over the years, that helped him function everyday in class.

Now remember a very important aspect of social stories is that they should be positive. There should be stories about how if you do "A" then "positive B" will happen. Such as: your classmates will like you; your parents and teachers will be proud of you; you will learn and get an education; you will have a good day, etc.

Some of the social stories that CM2 read every morning included:

What to do when you entered the school.
Where to go (classroom).
How to greet the teacher and other students upon entering the room.
Where to put your coat and backpack.
What to do when you go to your desk.
How to ask to go to the bathroom.
How to raise your hand when you wanted to ask a question.
How to take turns.
How to do work when you are asked to.
How to handle being upset...where to go and who to talk to.
Who to go to if you get sick.
How to play at gym or recess.
How to behave on a class trip.
How to go through the cafeteria.
How to talk to a teacher.
How to talk to classmates.

We also have written out social stories for the house and behavior when they were little too. Some of these include:

What to do when you wake up...
going to the bathroom,
changing your clothes,
how to put your clothes in the hamper,
making your bed,
brushing your teeth,
brushing your hair,
eating breakfast,
getting ready for school, etc.

Then there are social stories at home for how to handle interactions:

How to play with siblings.
How to take turns.
How to talk to mom and dad.
How to talk to grandparents and other relatives.
How to behave at a party.
How to go to the supermarket.
How to go to the barbershop.
How to behave in a  car.
What to do on long car rides.
What to do on an airplane.
What to do during the day (this is also scheduling activities, which you need to direct until they get much older).
How to behave when we stop for gas.
How to act in a restaurant...aka McDonald's, Chuck-E-Cheese, etc.
How to share the television.
How to share the video games.
How to hang up your coat.

Don't forget you can use social stories when teaching chores as well..explain in social stories how each chore is to get done and what is expected.

Making their bed.
Setting the table.
Taking out the garbage.
Mowing the lawn.
Clearing the table after dinner.
Putting their toys away.
Helping with laundry.
Helping dad or mom around the house when they are asked. (By the way don't ever be afraid to ask them to help. Make it age and ability appropriate and you will see tremendous growth in your child's self-esteem.)

Now the important thing to remember about social stories, is that they need to be repeated time and time again. It may actually take years for your child to "get" the social story, but eventually they will. You will need alot of patience, as with everything else we do for our children. I  recommend the following books and authors:

The original Carol Gray books.

Don't forget for those that cannot read, there is a method called cartooning. It is another form of social story and can be used just as effectively as the written word.

And again anything written by Jed Baker. His books are quite frankly written as social stories. You can use what he wrote or change them to meet your child's needs.

Here is a list of alternative social story books on Amazon.com.

Also Here is the website for AAPC website, which publishes specialized books on ASD issues.

As anyone can tell you social stories is the life blood of raising a child on the autism spectrum. They can be used for every event at any time during your child's day. They are an important and effective tool in making the world manageable for your children.

One more final note on the subject. You can also develop your own form of social story that works for your children and your home. Everything in these books or the topics I have written out are only a place to begin, not the final draft. Read this recent blog about the social story we wrote for CM2 for transitioning into college. He poo-pooed it, but guess what, it helped.

By the way, all these videos I took off of YouTube, which means they are free to the public...take advantage of today's technology. It can make your life and what you need to accomplish for your children, just so much easier.

Until next time,