Social stories are a learning tool. They provide information in a concrete way using the support of visuals. They tell individuals what they should do (as opposed to only saying what they shouldn’t do). Children with autism benefit from direct instruction and training for social skills. Social stories and other visual aides provide a structure for that instruction. These resources are not magic wands. You still need to teach them and utilize them in a purposeful way. It’s my pet peeve when people suggest, “oh just use a social story” or “make a visual schedule” and they do the hard work of prepping the material, plop it in front of the child, and are frustrated when there are no changes. Social stories, just like other visual resources, need to be taught. 

Read on a regular basis.

Review relevant social stories on regular basis. Incorporate it in your daily routine by reading it with your student every morning or before direct instruction. If there are particular triggers for students, review the social story when those triggers before. I had a student who really struggled with the loud noises in gym class, so we read the Loud Noises social story every week before gym. The paraprofessional took the story with in case he had to review again during gym class. She used the same language as in the social story when giving him verbal prompts. 

Put them where you need them.

Especially when it comes to using social stories to decrease problem behavior – you need have these resources located strategically. You aren’t going to pause a child in pre-meltdown mode so you can run and grab a social story. Laminate your social stories and velcro them to the wall, in a central location in the classroom, or put in student binders. I love having the Lunchroom Behavior social story near the door so you can grab it on the way to the cafeteria. {tip: also put the fire dire social story near the door to grab on the way out!}

Send home for parents to use.

If this resource is helpful in the school setting, share the love. Send copies home. Invite the parent into school to review how to utilize the social story. This is a great way to add in some meaningful, positive communication with parents and involve them as a member of the team! 

Why I think social stories can be helpful: 

Social stories can be helpful for children that have verbal skills, are rule governed, and struggle with receptive language. Social stories usually provide concrete support on what a child should be doing. Think about how often your child is told what not to do. “Don’t run.” “Don’t be so loud. “Stop playing.” Some of our students may not be able to infer what they should be doing. If someone says don’t run, do they mean I should walk? Social stories can be utilized to illustrate this relationship. 

Check out my sets of social stories below. Click on the name to learn more. I am also happy to help customize as needed! 🙂 

Behavior Set

– What to do When You’re Frustrated
– Time Out
– Being Jealous
– Loud Noises

Personal Space

– Hands to Yourself
– Personal Space 
– When You Can Give a Hug

School Behaviors Set 1

– Getting a Wrong Answer
– Saying I Don’t Know
– Helping Your Teacher
– Lunch Room Behavior

School Behaviors Set 2 

– Raising Your Hand
– Do Your Homework
– Walking in the Hallway
– Changes are Okay