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Social Stories for Students with Autism

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 have students with autism spectrum disorder or others who need to develop social skills? This lesson will discuss how to create and individualize social stories to use with these students.

What Are Social Stories?

Social stories are narratives that are specifically designed to improve the social skills of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) however they can be used by any person with deficits in social skills. They teach social skills through narratives or visuals that present different scenarios including social cues and the perspective of others, which are both areas that can be difficult for students with ASD.

Example

Following is an example of a social story for a student who is afraid of using the restroom at school. Later in the lesson we will discuss how to individualize social stories so each line is numbered for reference.

Line 1: Sometimes when he is at school, Johnny has to use the bathroom. (Insert picture of school bathroom.)

Line 2: Sometimes Johnny feels scared because the bathroom is very noisy. (Insert a scared face visual.)

Line 3: The fan that dries his hands is loud. (Insert picture of fan hand dryer.)

Line 4: The fan that cleans the air is loud, too. (Insert picture of air fan.)

Line 5: The fans are important because they keep his hands and air clean and germ free! (Insert picture of clean hands under dryer.)

Line 6: The engine that moves the fan blades makes the fans loud. (Insert picture of engine and fan blades.)

Line 7: If we didn't have fans in the bathroom Johnny's hands would be wet, and the air would be stinky. (Insert picture of wet hands.)

Line 8: When Johnny hears fans he can remember that they will not hurt him; the fans are doing important jobs.

Line 9: Not all bathrooms have fans. Johnny can use bathrooms with or without fans. (Insert picture of bathroom without noisy fans.)

Line 10: If Johnny can be brave and use loud and noisy bathrooms he can go lots of places and not worry about holding himself until he finds a quiet bathroom. (Insert picture of locations Johnny likes to visit.)

Notice how the stories are written in a positive 'can do' tone. Try to avoid adding consequences or rules in the story. Do not discuss what not to do, rather focus on the desired and expected behaviors.

Individualizing Social Stories

Line 1: Use first person.

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