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Social Stories

What are social stories?

Social Stories are short narratives designed to help children remember desired behaviours. They can be presented in written language, through picture symbols or a combination of both. Carol Gray is credited with having originated the concept of a Social Story and continues to develop and conduct research around their use and effectiveness. The term 'Social Story' is protected by a trademark and therefore refers exclusively to the narrative scripts which are written following the rules and principles set out by Carol Gray. However, the term 'Social Story' has become a label loosely used to describe any narrative reinforcing a social rule or behaviour.

Though Social Stories were originally devised to support children with autism, they are now used to help children with a wide range of behavioural, emotional and social needs.

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Writing a Social Story

Social Stories are written in the first or third person and describe them following a sequence of desired behaviours. Often they list strategies to avoid conflict or other unwanted behaviours and consequences.

Social Stories can sometimes be made to fit on cards that can be carried by the child. Where the child can not or has difficulty reading, pictures or symbols are used. Good practice is for an adult to read through the social story with the child just before the situation or activity that may present difficulties. For example, where a child is having problems at playtime the class teacher or teaching assistant will rehearse the social story just before they go out each day.

Social stories should be written:

with the child
using age appropriate vocabulary
in positive language
without consequences
to reinforce desired behaviours or outcomes
to support the child's emotional well-being
in addition to other provision to support behaviour

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Examples of Social Stories

Behaviour causing concern:

Calling out in class

Desired behaviour:

To be able to wait their turn to speak to teacher.

In class, the teacher often asks questions. Many children may know the answer. The teacher will choose one or two children to say their answer. When I know the answer I can’t wait to tell the teacher. It is important that I wait my turn before calling out my answer. The teacher will know that I want to give my answer. Sometimes it will not be my turn to give the answer. The teacher needs to give all the children a turn.
I can be pleased with myself that I had an answer even if I don’t tell the teacher.

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Behaviour causing concern:

Anger and upset with friends when they don’t want to play

Desired behaviour:

To help NAME to play with a wider group of children

At playtime, I go out to play.
I will look for my friends.
Sometimes my friends play with other children.
Friends having other friends is OK.
I can ask if we can all play together.
Playing with lots of children can be fun.
Sometimes they have enough people for their game.
I can find someone else to play with.
Making new friends can be fun.

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There are further examples and free downloadable resources on the following pages:

Social Stories

Social Story Resources