Use of Social Stories for Children with Autism

Many children with autism have difficulty knowing what to do in various social situations.  Carol Gray, Director of the Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding, created social stories.  Social stories are short stories used as a teaching tool for children with autism that describe a potentially challenging situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses.  They are written or tailored to an autistic individual to help them understand and behave appropriately in social situations. The stories have a specifically defined style and format.

They describe a situation in terms of relevant social cues, the perspective of others, and often suggest an appropriate response. They may also be used to applaud accomplishments.  It breaks down a challenging social situation into understandable steps by omitting irrelevant information and by being highly descriptive to help an individual with an ASD understand the entirety of a situation. It includes answers to questions such as who, what, when, where, and why in social situations through the use of visuals and written text. Social Stories are used to teach particular social skills, such as identifying important cues in a given situation; taking another’s point of view; understanding rules, routines, situations, upcoming events or abstract concepts; and understanding expectations.  Social Stories can provide information in an accurate but supportive manner, describe an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation, prepare an individual for an upcoming event, or help an individual understand what is going on around them and the expectations of the situation.

The goal of a social story is to reveal accurate social information in a clear and reassuring manner that is easily understood by the individual with an ASD. The improved understanding of the events and expectations may lead to a change in behavior, although it is suggested that the goal of a social story should not be to change individual behavior.

Examples of situations when a social story would be appropriate are: “Going to the grocery store,”  “Going to school,” “Going to the doctor,” or “Riding the bus.”

Prewritten social story examples can be found on:

It is also beneficial to create your own stories with real pictures to help the child relate better.

Information taken from:

Michelle Morgado, M.S., CCC-SLP


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