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Social Stories TM

What are social stories?

I use social stories to help the children I work with cope with anxiety and prepare for upcoming events. I personalise each story for the specific needs of the reader. That may include complex paragraphs, symbols, simple illustrations or just key words. They can cover any subject and any situation you may need them for.

The National Autistic Society explains:

Social stories TM were created by Carol Gray in 1991. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. 
The terms 'social story' and 'social stories' are trademarks originated and owned by Carol Gray.

What are social stories for?

  • To prepare a child for an upcoming event

  • To help ease anxiety

  • To help understand how best to respond in a situation

  • To support a child cope with changes to routine

  • To discourage negative behaviours

  • To provide praise and encouragement, boosting self esteem

Why do they help?

I find that the stories remove me from the situation. The children respond to the story as a third person. It means that the story is telling them something they may not want to hear, instead of me. 

Often, when our children are feeling anxious, they struggle to comprehend verbal instructions. The words get muddled and confused. If they are written down they are concrete and are the same every time they are read. This makes it far easier to understand and comprehend. Pictures or symbols will support this further.

When would you use one?

I write mini social stories throughout my teaching/parenting day without even realising it, and I am sure you do to. A timetable or calendar can work as a social story as it visually prepares our children for upcoming events. Showing photos on your phone of family you are going to see is a social story for the same reason. All you are doing is supporting your child to comprehend what is happening through a visual and concrete means.

I have created many social stories as well, through my time as a special needs teacher. Some for moving house, moving classrooms or teachers, using a different coloured plate, not kicking when angry, going on school trips, moving chairs in the circle, going to assembly....etc. Whatever you need you can make it fit.

I also use them as a parent now. When our foster child first came to live with us he was incredibly anxious. We created a story about our home and things we will do as a family. It really helped him become at ease and know what to expect.

Sometimes they are written on scraps of paper lying around because they are needed there and then. Sometimes I use a drywipe white board. Other times I type and laminate the story so it can be reused as and when we need it. It totally depends on the situation, there is no right way.

How do I write one?

I found the template below whilst researching Social Stories for this blog post. I believe it explains well how to write one and includes the important aspects to remember. Feel free to download/print and try for yourself.

Some examples;

Moving House:

On the 16th February we are moving house. We are moving to The Street, London. I will bring all of my toys and clothes with me. My Mummy and Daddy and Brother are going to live in the new house with me. We will have the same TV and the same fridge. I will bring my bed with me. We will have a new garden. It is a big fun garden with a swing. This makes me happy. I will be sad to leave my old house. I can take photos of my old house to my new house so i can remember what it looked like.  (include photos of new house).

Using kind hands and feet:

Sometimes I feel angry because I lose a game. This makes my friends feel worried because they think I might hurt them. They will not want to play with me if i keep kicking them. I will try to keep my hands and feet kind when I am playing a game with my friends. This makes them happy. If i start to feel angry I can walk away and have quiet time in the sensory room. This makes me feel calm again so i can keep playing. I like playing games and I like my friends.

Swimming is cancelled:

Ben likes swimming. Class 3 go swimming on a wednesday afternoon. Sometimes swimming is cancelled. This makes Ben sad. Don't worry Ben we can try again next week. This makes Ben feel happy.

 
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So you see, it's really rather simple. The best thing to do is just have a go. You will soon learn what works for your child. We hope our little guide has helped. 

Feel free to ask questions below or in a private message to oursensorykids@gmail.com. I will be more than happy to help.