Social stories: Back to school

I use Social Stories all the time to help Ryan get ready for special events, cope with change or focus on a particular behaviour. Since he’s so visual and loves language they are the perfect way to get his attention and avoid my tendency to ‘over talk’ (although I’m pretty good at ‘over writing’ too!).

Carol Gray, the woman who gave us all the gift of social stories, describes them as a story that:

  • describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses
  • shares accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience.

Real social stories follow a specific format, which I have to admit I don’t always use, but you can get all the details on Carol Gray’s website.

Two tips worth remembering:

  • Gray says half of all Social Stories should affirm something that an individual does well
  • I’ve also read that developing with the child’s participation is important and worthwhile

Writing from the heart

At this stage, I work with Ryan about responses he can choose to various situations, but the stories focused on transitions or change I often write myself. It’s all trial and error.  Sometimes he corrects words he doesn’t like, or ideas or options that don’t appeal to him. It’s worked incredibly well for us.

My few tips:

  • Keep the social stories short
  • Try to use language and/or jargon that your child enjoys/understands
  • Leverage the impact of favourite characters or stories to make your stories more interesting or accessible
  • Pictures make everything more fun!

Here’s one example below. I can’t publish the pix since they are all licensed.

Social story: Calvin Goes Back to School

Calvin and Hobbs had a great summer together. They went camping. They swam and played on the beach. They went to Artech camp.

Now it’s time for Calvin and Hobbs to start school. Calvin is going into Grade Two. Mrs. White is his new teacher. She is very kind and wants to help Calvin have a good year.

Ms. Prine is Calvin’s new Learning Centre Teacher. She will make sure Calvin learns new things this year too and she will organize his computer and break times.

Some things at school have changed, like Calvin’s teachers, but lots of things have stayed the same:

–         Calvin’s friends will be back at school. Dan, William and Isaac are all in Calvin’s class.

 –         Calvin will still have computer time, sometimes Miniclip and sometimes other games.

–         The rules of the classroom are still the same – respect yourself and others, do your best work, ask for help when you need it.

It’s going to be a great year for Calvin and Hobbs!

Where do you find great social stories? I’ve found some great samples online. Share your favourite links.


Filed under Books & articles

2 responses to “Social stories: Back to school

  1. Sonia

    I agree with you Anne-Marie, sometimes as parents we tend to over talk!! Being “the french one” in life, I get the idea. But one thing we found with our daughter, Maryse, is letting her build her own social stories. We’ve tried some “apps” (but they were to complicated!), we tried Mme Grays social stories, but they weren’t appropriate for what we needed. So one day, Maryse was playing with her Playdo, and I needed to prepare her for a show that I was doing in a restaurant in Halifax. She came up with little Playdo people (balls with two dots for the eyes)! For us that was the best experience we had in bringing her in a non-formal setting to hear me sing! The beauty of it, is that after that experience, we realised that we could use whatever toys she loved at that moment. (Little Pet Shops are a winner! We caught her playing one day, and they were waiting in line to use the slide!!) We used Legos this summer to do a social story for going through the security checkpoints at the airport!! She chose the bad Star Wars robots for the officers and picked which luggage we would all use!! Whatever works! And we had a wounderfull trip…well…you all get what I mean!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing this great story Sonia. I really like your approach and I’ve read that it’s really important for kids to have a stake in creating social stories. I would love to hear more about how you got Maryse involved. Did you ‘set up’ situations for her playdo people and then ask some questions about how they would deal with a situation? We bought a FLiP camera last Christmas to get Ryan to film ‘social stories’ – he really dislikes role playing when it comes to real life situations – he can ‘smell’ the learning opportunity and really doesn’t like it. We haven’t really gotten into the camera for that purpose yet, but I think it would be really fun. Glad to have the reminder to get back to it! Anne-Marie

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