A social story is a resource that was invented in 1991 by Carol Gray, Director of the Gray Center for Learning and Understanding, for aiding children who suffer from autism. These stories are created by a teacher or parent and are specific to the child and the particular situation the child is having trouble with.
Research the Behavior
To create a social story to help an autistic child, you must start by identifying the behavior you are trying to overcome. For example, an autistic child may engage in profound emotional displays when confronted with a minor conflict, such as the inability to tie her shoe. The story-writer must monitor the child’s behavior and document the frequency of instances where the child reacts inappropriately to the shoe tying. The story must reflect the shoe incident specifically in order to have the optimum effect on the child. In other words, the child may not make the connection that her behavior should be modified when dealing with an untied shoe if the story is about how to react to a broken toy.
Create Your Sentences
Once the behavior is evaluated, the story creator must write a series of sentences that are age appropriate and serve a series of purposes. A descriptive sentence explains the situation or environment where the problem is occurring: “Every day before school, I must put on my shoes and tie them.” A perspective sentence gives the perspective of the child or others on the situation: “When I cannot tie my shoes, I feel very angry.” Finally, a directive sentence gives the child specific instructions on what to do or not do. “When I feel angry, I should not scream and cry,” or “When I am having trouble tying my shoes, I should quietly get up and ask mom for help.” You can include additional sentences to clarify the point, like another perspective sentence that says “It makes people unhappy when I scream at them.”
Creating Your Book
Once you have your story sentences laid out, it is time to make the book. You can create you story in book form by folding pages to make a booklet. Include one page for every sentence you have written. Print out each sentence on the top of the page. You can include pictures to help the child better understand what the words are saying; however, the inclusion of pictures must be specific to the child too. In other words, some children get distracted by pictures. These children would be poor candidates for having pictures in their story. Higher functioning autistic children, like those with Asperger’s Syndrome, can understand a social story with no pictures at all. You may also display your story on a large poster board as separate pages posted along the wall.