Blog #214~How to Make a Social Story
A social story is a visual support that helps individuals understand new events, and reinforces a desired skill, task, or behavior. They are useful for individuals that have Down syndrome, autism or other intellectual/developmental disabilities. My son, Nick is 24 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. Over the years, we’ve used social stories to help him navigate new situations like starting back to school, doctors and dentist appointments, vacations, and independent living skills such as showering and brushing teeth. Social stories provide a blueprint as to what will occur and what is expected from a behavior standpoint. Knowing what will happen and what’s expected, will also help to reduce anxiety.
As you can see from the illustration above, a social story should use succinct wording and may include visual, depending on the ability and age of the child. Individuals with autism often understand better with pictures. Support teachers and speech therapists are great resources for creating social stories for your child. Google Images and Pinterest both offer many social stories to help you get started.
How to Make a Social Story:
1. Choose a specific event (starting school, a doctor visit, hygiene routine).
2. Break the story down into steps, including who, what, (and why depending on the child’s cognition level). Use the pronouns “I” or “we”.
3. State the desired behaviors that you want the person reading the story to do for each step.
4. Include visuals either on-line or actual pictures of the setting.
5. Show the desired outcome, this may include a reward or verbal praise like “good job”.
6. Read the story together with the child repeatedly for several weeks before the event or new routine occurs.
Some individuals may respond better to video modeling. Making a video of the desired task or behavior can help a child learn a new routine, adjust to a new environment or learn a skill. As with social stories, the script should be simple in wording and broken down step by step.
Both social stories and video based modeling can help teach new skills, venues and routines.
Here are a few more ideas for using social stories or video modeling to teach your child:
*New job skill
*Fine motor tasks (cutting food, buttoning a shirt, pouring milk, handwriting)
*Gross motor skills (swimming strokes, riding a bike, yoga, sports)
*Grooming and hygiene routines (brush teeth, shower, toileting, dressing)
*Morning, afternoon and bedtime routines
*School Routines ( new school, picture day, assemblies, new curriculum in PE)
*Visits to doctor, dentist, blood draws, haircuts
*Community trips, vacations and special events
*Teaching social skills (playing games with peers, turn taking)
When you know what is going to occur, you feel less anxious. Fear can lead to avoidance for all of us. Utilizing social stories can help guide a child to understand what will happen, where and what is expected of their behavior. It’s a great visual tool for teaching new skills and routines. As the new school year begins, create a social story that includes actual pictures of the school building, classroom, lunchroom, gym and any other areas your child will be in. Social stories will help to guide your child to smooth and successful experiences both at home, school and in the community. That’s what is in my noggin this week.
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