Social Stories for Aggressive Behavior

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Do you need new and engaging strategies for managing aggressive behavior in your classroom? This lesson describes the use of social stories to manage behaviors with positive narratives.

What Is a Social Story?

Social stories are narratives, or stories, that were originally designed to improve the social skills of people with autism spectrum disorder. However, they can be used for any person with deficits in social, behavioral and adaptive skills. They teach specific desired behaviors by presenting different scenarios and showing how to behave or respond to certain situations.

Social Story Example

Appropriate social and behavioral skills are typically learned by interacting with others. Students who have behavioral deficits may need more explicit instructions such as social stories. The following social story is written for a student who hits and kicks. Later in the lesson we will discuss how you can personalize the story, so line numbers are included for reference.

Line 1: These are Johnny's hands and feet. (Insert picture of hands and feet.)

Line 2: Johnny keeps his hands and feet to himself.

Line 3: Sometimes when Johnny is upset, he hits and kicks other people.

Line 4: This can hurt people and make them sad. (Insert sad face.)

Line 5: Johnny should not hit or kick other people.

Line 6: Johnny should keep his hands and feet to himself in the classroom, at lunch and on the playground. (Insert pictures of classroom, cafeteria and playground.)

Line 7: If Johnny feels angry, he can squeeze the ball in his desk. (Insert picture of stress ball.)

Effective Social Stories

As shown in the example, the narrative of a social story uses a positive tone. It is made up of behaviors Johnny should demonstrate, e.g., keeps his hands and feet to himself. Try to avoid 'what not to do' statements such as Johnny will not hit. The story does not tell Johnny what is bad, just that his actions can hurt people.

The story is developmentally appropriate for the student. For example, if you are writing for a 4th grader, do not write about crayons and teddy bears.

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