What is a Social Story™?

A Social Story is a story that shares social information with an autistic child or adult in an accessible way, respectful of their different perspective and interpretation of the social world. It is written in a specific way according to ten defining characteristics (the Social Story criteria) which guide it to be meaningful, safe, patient, non-judgemental and reassuring. Social Stories describe anything and everything in life. Some people misunderstand and misuse Social Stories, telling autistic children and adults what they are doing wrong and then what to do in a very directive way. These are not genuine Social Stories, and are frequently unsafe and ineffective. 

A Social Story’s aim is to improve the child or adult’s understanding by simply sharing social information. With improved social understanding clarity and predictability is established and anxiety is diminished. 

Are Social Stories just for children?

Social Stories are often thought of as a strategy to help just children, but they can be and are used for all ages and abilities, provided the author takes into consideration the individual it is being written for, adapting it to their language level, understanding, learning style, interests, and attention span. 

Each autistic person is unique – how can Social Stories™ and Articles help?

This is what is so wonderful about the Social Stories approach –each Story or Article is absolutely individualised for each unique person in their unique situation. To do this it is important that the author understands the autistic person’s perspective of the situation before starting to write. This means effort and time must be given to exploring the autistic person’s take on the situation, and observing the situation from both the autistic and non-autistic point of view. If this is done then the Stories or Articles will be able to provide the specific information needed. The Story or Article is then written according to the cognitive abilities, attention span, learning style and wherever possible talents and interests of the person it is written for. This adaptability of the approach for the individual makes it incredibly useful for all ages and abilities.

Are there any topics they cannot address?

Although Social Stories are required to be positive in tone this does not mean that negative topics like bullying, divorce, and bereavement cannot be addressed. Social Stories describe life and that of course includes both positive and negative topics. They are however addressed in a specific way according to the ten defining Criteria so that the autistic person is both informed and reassured. Without this information anxiety may be amplified and can become a serious problem. 

Can Social Stories™ be used proactively? 

Social Stories are often written to address a response that demonstrates that social information is missing. More often than not they are written after other methods have failed. To use Social Stories purely in a reactive way however misses out on an important opportunity. Social Stories can and should be written and shared with autistic children and adults proactively to avoid misunderstanding and to provide a level of social predictability. The Stories and Articles are after all only ensuring that all people have the same level of social information as they go about their lives. 

Taken from blog written by Siobhan for Jessica Kingsley Publishers


Please feel free to enquire, discuss your requirements or book a talk, contact me for further details.

Comments are closed.

No comments yet.

× Close