Social Stories are a concept devised by Carol Gray in 1991 to improve the social skills of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The objective is to share information, which is often through a description of the events occurring around the subject and also why. Social stories are used to educate and as praise children.
What are social stories for?
Social stories can be used to:
- develop self-care skills (eg how to clean teeth, wash hands or get dressed), social skills (eg sharing, asking for help, saying thank you, interrupting) and academic abilities
- help someone to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation
- help others understand the perspective of an autistic person and why they may respond or behave in a particular way
- help a person to cope with changes to routine and unexpected or distressing events (eg absence of teacher, moving house, thunderstorms)
- provide positive feedback to a person about an area of strength or achievement in order to develop self-esteem
- as a behavioural strategy (eg what to do when angry, how to cope with obsessions).
How do social stories help?
Social stories present information in a literal, 'concrete' way, which may improve a person's understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity. The presentation and content can be adapted to meet different people's needs.
They can help with sequencing (what comes next in a series of activities) and 'executive functioning' (planning and organising).
By providing information about what might happen in a particular situation, and some guidelines for behaviour, you can increase structure in a person's life and thereby reduce anxiety.
Creating or using a social story can help you to understand how the autistic person perceives different situations.
Successful Social Stories for Young Children with Autism, Dr Siobhan Timmins, foreword by Carol Gray
Successful Social Stories for School and College Students with Autism, Dr Siobhan Timmins, foreword by Carol Gray
The new Social Story book: 15th Anniversary Edition, Carol Gray 2015
Visual supports for people with autism: a guide for parents and professionals, Marlene Cohen and Peter Gerhardt 2016
Revealing the hidden social code, Marie Howley and Eileen Arnold 2005
Aprendices Visuales – books with pictograms