The concept of Social Stories™ was developed by Carol Gray in 1989 through her work as a teacher in Michigan. The stories are based on a social philosophy that recognises that communication is a two-way process and therefore the social impairment is a difficulty shared by both the individual with autism and the communicative partner without autism. Carol Gray’s Social Stories™ provide a means for a parent/professional to consider the perspective of the person with autism and therefore communicate ideas in a more effective way.
Social Stories™ are a method of communication between a student with autism and the professional/parent. They are used as a means of clearly communicating information about a context, skill or concept in a way that is meaningful to someone with autism. This creates clarity and predictability for the student and can subsequently reduce anxiety and improve the ability to cope in different contexts and experiences.
Social Stories™ and Context
Carol Gray’s definition of Context is:
One or more people plus any place, purpose, predicament, and/or event; the dynamic meaning derived from the simultaneous consideration of social cues at any point in time.
In order to make sense of the world around us it is essential that we effectively use context to inform us, for students with autism this is difficult. They can struggle with sorting, arranging and discarding social cues as well as applying meaning to social cues throughout the day. A Social Story™ can be used to teach a student social understanding, in particular the unwritten social rules, which typically developing people understand implicitly.
Social Stories™ are now used extensively by those living and working with autism but they can sometimes be used incorrectly. It is a powerful tool to be able to present a concept from the perspective of someone with autism. Social Stories™ need to be carefully authored to ensure they are truly meaningful and effective. It is therefore essential to follow Carol Gray’s original definition of a Social Story™ and the recommended ten criteria for writing a Social Story™, which are based on extensive research and professional experience.
Definition of a Social Story™
The definition on Carol Gray’s Social Story™ website is:
A Social Story accurately describes a context, skill, achievement, or concept according to 10 defining criteria. These criteria guide Story research, development, and implementation to ensure an overall patient and supportive quality, and a format, “voice”, content, and learning experience that is descriptive, meaningful, and physically, socially, and emotionally safe for the child, adolescent, or adult with autism.
We can use Social Stories™ with children and young adults with autism as a method of sharing information in an accurate, meaningful and safe way.
Social Story Criteria
Over the course of 20 years Carol Gray has modified the guidelines used for writing Social Stories™. The term Social Stories 10:2 or 10.2 Criterion refers to the updated or developed criteria released in 2014. These developments are based on both her extensive personal experiences and feedback from parents, teachers and children/young people with autism. Independent research studies published in scientific journals identify the use of Social Stories as evidence-based practice in education and therapy.
Follow the link below to Carol Gray’s Social Story™ website which clearly explains the ten criteria for writing a Social Story™:http://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Social-Stories-10.0-10.2-Comparison-Chart.pdf
- Social Stories are a positive approach which should be introduced to students in a calm and comfortable environment and read to or with students using a positive tone.
- Students should never be forced to read or review a story, nor should a Social Story™ be used with a student as a consequence for inappropriate behaviour.
Example Social Stories™
Over the course of 20 years Carol Gray has modified the guidelines used for writing Social Stories™ with the recent introduction of the 10:2 Criterion. These developments are based on both her extensive personal experiences and feedback from parents, teachers and children/young people with autism. Independent research studies published in scientific journals identify the use of Social Stories as evidence-based practice in education and therapy.
WHAT TO DO WITH MISTAKES ON SCHOOLWORK
A mistake is an error. All students make mistakes. So, most students are not surprised to see them on their schoolwork. They may feel sad or disappointed, but not really surprised.
Expecting mistakes helps students prepare for the disappointment of seeing them on their corrected papers. Expecting mistakes helps many students stay calm, so they can think and handle any mistake well.
Sometimes, students are told to correct mistakes on schoolwork. That’s one reason why most pencils have erasers. Students try to figure out what they did wrong. Then, they erase the mistake and make it right. That’s one good way to handle a mistake.
Other times, it’s difficult to figure out why an answer is wrong. Staying calm helps students do their best thinking. Sometimes, thinking a little longer helps a student correct a mistake. That’s another great way to handle a mistake.
Often, there are times when students need help with a mistake. They try to figure out what they did wrong, and think a little longer, but still are confused by the mistake. So, they ask for help. Asking for help is another great way to handle a mistake.
I’m a student. I’m likely to make mistakes. I’m learning to expect them. That way, I may learn to be great at handling my mistakes!
TELLING MY TEACHER ABOUT A PROBLEM
Teachers and students talk about many things. They often talk about good news. They can also solve problems together.
Sometimes, a student may have a problem, or feel frustrated or angry. Telling the teacher can help. That way, the teacher will know there is a problem. Teachers want to help. They have a lot of ideas. Teachers can help to solve problems.
If I have a problem at school, telling the teacher may help. If I feel frustrated or angry, telling the teacher may help, too. My teacher has a lot of ideas. She can help to solve problems.
Teachers can help students solve problems and feel more comfortable again.
Additional reading list:
Briody, J., & McGarry, K. (2005). Using social stories to ease children’s transitions. Young Children, 60, p.38-43
Chan, J.M., & O’Reilly, M.F. (2008). A Social Stories intervention package for students with autism in inclusive classroom settings. Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 41, p. 405-409.
Chan, J.M. et al (2011). Evaluation of Social Stories intervention implemented by pre-service teachers for students with autism in general education settings. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, p.715-721.
Delano, M., & Snell, M.E. (2006). The effects of social stories on the social engagement of children with autism. Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions, 8(1), p. 29-42.
Hutchins, T. (2012). Social Stories. In P.A Prelock & R.J. McCauley (Eds.), Treatment of autism spectrum disorders: Evidence-based intervention strategies for communication and social interaction. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Kokina, A., & Kern, L. (2010). Social Story interventions for students with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 40, p. 812-826.
Reynhout, G., & Carter, M. (2009). The use of Social Stories by teachers and their perceived efficacy. Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, p. 232-251.
Schneider, N., & Goldstein, H. (2010). Social Stories improve the on-task behaviour of children with language impairment. Journal of Early Intervention, 31 (3), 250-264
Toplis, R., & Hadwin, J.A. (2006). Using social stories to change problematic lunchtime behaviour in school. Educational Psychology in Practice, 22 (1), p. 53-67.