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Social Stories For Children with Autism

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“Keeping my hands and feet to myself”, “being a friend”, or “when I feel frustrated” are three examples of social stories. 

No, they’re not bedtime stories, nor is it required reading for a kindergartener. Instead, these are social stories for kids with autism. 

Designed over 30 years ago to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) navigate social situations, social stories have been and continue to be revolutionary in helping children on the spectrum understand how to conduct themselves. 

Whether you have a child with a new Autism Diagnosis or you’re currently struggling with a specific autism behavior, social stories can be instrumental in helping your child learn new social skills and adapt to unfamiliar situations.

At Heartlinks, we incorporate social stories throughout our ABA therapy sessions. Combined with other teaching methods, we can instruct our young clients to conduct themselves in various social and new situations.

With many different types of ABA therapy available, let Heartlinks help your child navigate the new and unfamiliar using social stories. 

Boy holding Autism heart

What are Social Stories?

Social stories for kids with Autism were developed to illustrate specific problems and situations and how to handle them. They’re designed to help children with Autism understand intricate social cues and learn the appropriate communication skills to interact with others. 

They are effective because they use a combination of pictures and words to explain the activity that’s about to happen and what the child can expect. 

Who Invented Social Stories?

The idea of social stories for children with Autism was developed by Dr. Carol Gray in the early 1990s. It was in 1993 that her first book was first published, and she’s since published many more on the subject.

Since their creation, Carol Gray has created several different social story formats, including videos, comic strips, and virtual reality scenarios.

How are Social Stories Used?

Often children with Autism have difficulty understanding appropriate social behaviors, including facial expressions, body language, or eye contact. 

It is for this reason that social stories were developed. They help autistic children learn acceptable ways to behave in a variety of social settings. This is done by:

  • Providing details regarding the social setting
  • Explaining things that traditionally happen in that setting
  • The social behaviors and actions that are expected of children in that setting.
Mother reading a social story to her Son

Social stories have proven tremendously helpful in helping children with Autism who wouldn’t typically understand pick-up on social cues.

The following are some of the most common uses of social stories:

  • Instruct children to complete tasks such as making their bed or washing their used dishes.
  • Provide choices for children when in a social skills group or a similar setting.
  • Assist children in preparing for challenging or potentially stressful situations such as a school field trip or dance.
  • Help kids appropriately respond to facial expressions or body language.
  • Preparing children for special events such as attending a wedding.
  • Build a child’s confidence and self-esteem as they navigate new social situations.

What do Social Stories Look Like?

Most social stories are written for children on the spectrum or those with learning disabilities. They’re written to help them navigate emotions such as stress, daily events such as getting dressed, frustrations, and challenges. 

Typically they contain the following elements:

  • Have a title
  • Contain an introductory page that describes the scene and the situation
  • Include several pages, each with text and corresponding images
  • The images can be realistic drawings or large photographs which correlate directly to the story’s content.
  • Each page will include coaching language and “applause” for the reader.
  • Social stories are usually only available in color because children with ASD tend to find them more appealing.

Heartlinks Can Help

Social stories allow children with ASD to effectively manage their emotions, improve communication, and change their behavior. 

Thanks to the internet, many free social stories are available online for download. If you’re looking for more tangible examples, you can borrow some from your local public library or order books from online sources like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

As one of the most low-cost, risk-free, Autism parent-friendly techniques, social stories can be highly beneficial in teaching your child new social skills and behaviors.

For more information on how social stories can help your child with ASD, contact Heartlinks today regarding our therapies that incorporate them, or sign-up for more info like this.

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