Effective tool for building social skills among children with ASD: Social Stories

Jul 12, 2021

Social stories were devised by Carol Gray in the 1990s, as narratives illustrating how to deal effectively with situations and problems. These social stories are an effective way for children with ASD learn about activities, social norms, describe events, and communicate expectations simply and appropriately. It helps them overcome challenges and difficulties with social communication and socio-emotional reciprocity. 

The 3 S of Social Stories:

  • Short: The social story needs to be precise as children with ASD have a low attention span. 
  • Specific: It has to be to the point as children with ASD find it difficult to understand indirect or elaborative communication. Keeping the message direct and in the first person is the key.
  • Simple: Children with ASD experience cognitive challenges, so it is important to keep the message in simple language/terms to avoid confusion.

What to create for Social Stories?

Social Stories are meant to be created simply to describe any events/situations, communicate expectations, rules, manners, and activities and the steps. It is crucial to keep the child’s current level skills and ability in mind while creating a social story, so they can individualize it for the child’s needs.

How to write a social story?

Every social story should contain the following 4 components:

  • Well-constructed: It should be relevant to the topic, well-researched, and presented in an engaging/interesting manner.
  • Specific Goal/ Learning Outcome: It should focus on teaching a target behavior/skills to the child.
  • Positive Description: The social story should always use positive language or encouraging words and cover details like who, when, what, how, etc.,
  • Visual representation: Every social story needs to have a visual representation along with the description to make it more appealing and engaging for the children.

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Five commonly used sentences in a social story:

  • Descriptive Sentence: Factual sentence stating an observable fact. Answers the ‘why’ question in every social story. Eg. Friends help one another during times of need.
  • Perspective Sentence: Opinion about a character in the story, like their likings, interests, physical appearance etc., Eg. Josh likes to read books.
  • Directive Sentence: Providing a sense of direction to the child on what is to be done in a given situation. Eg.Greeting your teacher when you see them. 
  • Affirmative Sentence: It throws light on why certain things are to be done and how it helps. It also helps in understanding common values.Eg. Wishing my teacher is important as it tells the teacher that I’m a student with good manners.
  • Partial Sentence: In which there is a blank and the student/child can participate and fill in the answer. Eg: I need to ……… my teeth to keep it strong.

Why the need for social stories?

Research has shown that social story is an effective intervention technique that produced positive results when used on children with ASD. Therefore, social stories can help children with ASD understand new behaviors, learn new skills, help children form better relationships, and help children to cope with everyday life transitions/changes.

Take your first step in creating your first social story with your child and help your child improve his/her communication skills.


Retrieved from: https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/social-stories-for-autistic-children/

Retrieved from: https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/therapies-guide/social-stories

Retrieved from: https://www.abaresources.com/social-stories/

Retrieved from:https://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/what-is-it/

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Revathi Hariharan

Revathi is a Counselling Psychologist, Resource Person at Eblity. She has worked as a School/Wellness Counsellor with VIBGYOR High, Kharghar, Mumbai for a year and half. Presently, she is associated with Eblity as a Content Developer and Resource Person. She is currently pursuing her International Career Coaching Certification from Mindler in association with NCDA.