Social stories are a great way to help kids with autism spectrum disorder. They are a simple and effective way to help kids to learn proper behaviors and what is expected of them.

Many kids with autism use visuals to communicate. Social stories use visuals to tell a story. Think of it as a “how-to” for behaviors. People with autism often misunderstand or don’t pick up on social cues like facial expressions or gestures and they may not make eye contact. Social stories introduce the typical way an event would unfold while carefully pointing out the subtleties that a child with autism might miss.

The purpose of social stories is to teach and learn so that when a child actually gets into a situation, they will have an understanding of what’s going on. This can help alleviate stress and anxiety as the child gets to practice first and do later and can definitely help improve problem behaviors.

Social stories may not be actual stories.  They can be short or long, one page or many. Some social stories use words to accompany the images and some just use images to tell the story. They are meant to help kids with autism to have a better understanding of what is expected and are presented in a positive manner. They are meant to model good behavior and are not meant to be presented in order to shame a child into good behavior.

There are many behaviors that can be taught using social stories. Walking quietly, keeping your hands to yourself, and waiting for your turn with a toy can all make great social stories. Everyday tasks like how to wash your hands and how to put away your things can also be taught quite well with social stories.

Social stories usually consist of three or four basic concepts that need to be grasped. These are represented by simple images depicting each phase along the way. Social stories can be created by printing the images in order on a worksheet or as a book or digital story.

Here is what a social story about going out to recess might look like:



Some kids will need to go over the story every time they do a certain activity while others will only need to hear a social story one time in order for it to make an impact. Social stories are meant to be used over and over if necessary and can be a great reminder of the rules and expectations. Posting social stories in areas where kids can see them can also be a great reminder of the rules.

After a child hears a social story, they can be asked to repeat the key points of the story. This will help them remember it.

You can create your own social stories for any activity, event, or behavior that you want. You can find many templates and even pre-made social stories on the Smarty Symbols website. It’s easy to do and you can just watch the tutorial for more instruction and ideas.

So, what story do you need to tell?

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