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Social Stories for Social Situations

Social stories help children learn how to respond and what to expect in social situations. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have difficulty knowing what to expect and how to respond in many social settings. Even though there are many variables in social situations, social stories help provide a basic foundation for what to expect and how to respond. Social stories can be purchased online or can often be found for free online. Social stories can also be easily created. It is best when creating a social story to use the same type of pictures throughout (realistic or cartoon), as well as keeping wording and content to a minimum so as not to overwhelm your child. Social Stories are always written in the positive, meaning, “I am great at keeping my hands to myself!”

According to the DSM-V, Autism Diagnostic Criteria, individuals with ASD have persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following:

  1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.
  2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
  3. Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.

Social stories help children navigate social situations and understand how to adjust behavior by creating rules, teaching, and reinforcing the child for their engagement. Social stories are also helpful because they break down the social scenarios into smaller sequences. There are written social stories and also video-based social stories. You can tailor to your child’s learning and choose which is best for your child.

Examples of possible social stories:

“When I’m Frustrated”

“Personal Space”

“Conversation Social Skills”

“Showing Respect”