Cafeteria Social Stories

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The cafeteria can be a stressful and stimulating place for many students. This lesson offers social stories for helping students on the autistic spectrum to cope with some challenges of the cafeteria.

Why Use Social Stories for the Cafeteria

Students who struggle with speech, language and social cues can find the school cafeteria challenging. A social story is a clear script you can read with these students to help them navigate cafeteria situations. In this lesson, you will find sample social stories that provide students with vocabulary, concepts and coping strategies to make the cafeteria a less overwhelming and more pleasant place.

Dealing With Food-Related Stress

Every day at lunch time, my teacher brings me and the other kids in my class to the school cafeteria. The cafeteria is a big, yellow room on the first floor of my school, and it is filled with long tables with stools. This is the place where we eat lunch when we are in school.

Sometimes, I buy my lunch in the cafeteria. The school lunch comes on a blue tray, and it usually has three different things to eat on it: a hot dish, a vegetable and a small treat. There is always milk on the side, and I can drink the milk with a straw. There are always utensils, which include a fork, spoon and knife.

I am supposed to start by eating the hot food and the vegetable. Sometimes, it makes me feel worried or sad to see these foods on my tray. When I feel worried, my heart starts racing and I feel like I might cry. When I feel sad, I feel a lump in my throat and I do not want to eat at all. I feel sad and worried because the foods might not taste good or feel good in my body. When I feel sad and worried this way, I sometimes want to scream, throw my food or hurt someone next to me.

When I feel sad and worried about food, it helps to try a small bite. Sometimes I realize that the food is actually okay after all. If I still do not like it, or if I really cannot stand to try it, it helps to tell a grownup in a calm voice. I can say, This food is making me feel worried. The grownup can help me find a sandwich or a part of the food that I do like.

When I am full, I bring my garbage to the trash can and say to myself, Good job using words during lunch today.

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