Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Write a Social Story

One of the most frequently asked questions I have heard in both Early Intervention and School settings is:  How do you write a social story?  I have found it helpful to not only provide educators and caregivers with the story they are seeking for their child, but also share the directions about writing future social stories.  Below is a handout that I created to assist others in writing a successful social story!

A social story is a personalized script that depicts any number of social scenarios.  Written  in the first person, the social story  may be repeated aloud; therefore, we want these utterances to be grammatically correct.  Children with autism have particular difficulty comprehending and responding to daily social situations.  Social stories present information in the picture form to improve the child's comprehension.  While there are many social stories available, often it is easiest to compose one specific to the child's needs and level of comprehension.  These stories can be generated using a computer program such as Communicate: SymWriter Windows or you could take a series of pictures to be placed in a mini photo album with sentences typed on paper strips along the bottom to ensure everyone reads the story in the same manner. 

Whether your social story is a few pictures in a photo album or several sentences on one full page, there are some elements that must be included in order for the story to be effective.  Let's look at a sample story and examine the  four types of sentences that comprise a social story.

Story title:  Changing into Gym Clothes Before Gym Class

Before we can go to gym class, we need to change into our gym clothes.  (This is an example of a descriptive sentence.  You may use a few of these in one story.)

Other children in my class need to change into their gym clothes before gym class too. (This is a perspective sentence because it describes another's actions.)

I will try and stay calm in the noisy changing room.  (This directive sentence type is a statement of the response or action you are trying to achieve with the social story.  You can even add some techniques that help the child "calm" such as taking deep breaths or counting.)

Most people change into gym clothes before gym class so they will not ruin their school clothes.  It is a good idea to keep our school clothes clean.  (This final sentence is called an affirmative one because it affirms or reinforces the other sentences in the story and reiterates values and opinions.)

Since it is often challenging for children with autism to comprehend multiple steps in a social sequence, social stories help define these steps in a visual script to improve comprehension.

For more information on Social Stories by Carol Gray go to

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