Social Stories 101

Social Stories.  We say it a lot, but do you know what they actually are and how they can help your students?

What are Social Stories:

 The concept of Social Stories is attributed to Carol Gray. She began developing the concept in the 1990's and if you look on her website she has a few articles explaining the history.  In short, a social story is a learning tool that is used to provide social supports for individuals. Social Stories are evidence-based and help the individual using the social story understand some of the little things in life that we often know innately. If you are doing a true Social Story, then you follow Carol Gray's protocol.  Honestly, I think the ones I write do not follow the protocol, but they work!

Why should I use Social Stories with my students:

Social Stories are great ways to help students understand expectations, routines, behaviors in a specific situation.   Social stories can provide visual/pictorial examples of expectations and are usually in story form which makes them more interesting to our students. 

Which students should I use Social Stories with?

All of them!  Ok, so I know typically we that that social stories should be used for students with Autism, but I have found that they work with all of my students.  Sometimes, just have those expectations written out is a reminder of what the student should be doing. 

How do I write social stories?

I promise it is not as hard as it seems.  A great way to start is a good old google search for social stories on ou specific topic.  I usually don't find exactly what I need, but I then can sometimes get some ideas and make the story fit my situation. I like to use real pictures and will go around taking pictures of set up situations for pictures to demonstrate what behavior I want.  For instance, I have a student who is having a lot of difficulties getting on the bus.  My first step was to take a picture of the bus drive, bus aide, the seat the student sit in, and the bus.  I then was able to write the student a story about getting on the bus, riding to school, getting off to see all their friends and having fun at school.  Guess what?  Getting on the bus has been much easier.  

If you want to know more about the prescribed way of writing a Social Story, this article from PBISWORLD is useful. 

I wrote it, now what?

Introduce the story to your student in a non-stressful time.  For example, a story about how we handle name calling should not be presented for the first time as a reaction to the student being called a name.  It should be introduced beforehand so the student is familiar with the story.  It can then be pulled out in that specific situation.  The story should also be reviewed at various times to remind the student of the expected behavior.  I often keep a copy of the story in the student's desk or book box, a copy in my classroom and I send a copy home.  This provides lots of opportunities to practice the skills and allows parents to be an active participant. 

Where can I find more information?

Here are some websites where you can find out more about Social Stories or find some examples:

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