Effective Social Stories

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Social Stories

This articles explains what social stories are and how they are used. It also gives advice on writing your own. Click here if you are looking for free printable examples.

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 usually 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 an adult can rehearse the social story just before they go out each day.

Social stories should ideally 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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Using we instead of I

Carol Gray describes the use of I when writing social stories. However, there is also an argument for using 'we' instead. 'We' communicates the idea that experiences are shared with others. The argument that autistic struggle with 'theory of mind' and don't readily recognise their inclusion in the concept of 'we' is, in my view, even more reason to use it. Thus by using 'we' it is reinforcing this concept of shared experiences. 'We' is also powerful in communicating that the individual is not alone in experiencing anxieties and fears or needing support.

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Social Story Examples

There are over 50 social story examples covering a wide range of topics. Each is a available with a free printable version.

Social Stories

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Useful resources for writing social stories

Effective Social Stories

Effective Social Stories

Advice for writing your own social stories.

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Example of Sentence Type in good Social Stories

Advice for writing social stories

Advice based on Carol Gray's original work on developing social stories. An example social story is given to illustrate the different types of sentence that she suggests should be included.

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

ASD

Non Literal Language Resources

Index of playground and other group games

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