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Social stories help autistic children

Social Story Cover
Social Story Cover
Amy Urbanek

Inherent social skills are a common deficit of autistic children.  Modeling or imitation are powerful strategies and the use of social stories is a popular way to teach these skills. 

A social story is a way to show autistic children how to handle themselves in everyday situations such as going to the store, taking a field trip or a vacation, having lunch in a restaurant or attending church by using pictures and simple sentences in a story.  When used in repetition prior to the event, and reviewed for everyday situations, these stories can help build self confidence and social skills in the autistic child. 

Common denominators of a well written social story are:

  • It provides details and information for the child reading the story - important because autistic children often find social situations confusing.
  • It provides the child with a list of the events and interactions that they will have to negotiate in a particular social setting.
  • It spells out expected behaviors for the child and explains why those behaviors are expect.
  • Sometimes a social story will explain the consequences of not meeting those expectations

Social stories are also written in a positive light, using verbiage like, "I will,", not "I will not,", and can have colorful and familiar pictures or photos included.  If your child can read, having them read the social story to you, or even having them help you write it can be a fun way to help teach the desired behavior or social skill.