If you have an Autistic child you have probably seen the term “social story” floating around. You may have even seen some come home with your child. I know the first time my daughter brought home a social story I was a bit set back. How could this be helpful to her when it was just so …basic? That particular social story was not helpful to her and for a while it put me off social stories as a whole.
Then I learned that social stories are scientifically proven to help autistic kids if they follow the social story formula when written.
A formula? Say what?! I asked my daughter’s teachers at the time and they thought I was nuts so I got to digging and sure enough there is a correct and incorrect way to write a social story. If you are not sure how to write a social story then this is for you!
How to Write a Social Story for a Child with Autism
Never once in eight years of school to work with Autistic children was the topic of how to write a social story taught.
Let that sink in for a bit.
There actually is quite a bit that school never really covered, but this is the one that to this day continues to blow me away. It wasn’t until I became a parent of an Autistic child that I really dug my heels in and began to learn this stuff. Thankfully writing a social story for an Autistic child isn’t rocket science. You got this mama!
Social Story Formula
Social stories are written from the perspective of the Autistic child. They are designed to explain what a child would see and experience. When writing a social story sticking to the main sentence structure is critical in achieving this. The forms of sentences to use when writing a social story are:
Descriptive: Sentences that provide information about a specific social situation or experience. These types of sentences are most commonly used to explain the routines and social roles of an environment.
Example: In the classroom students will raise their hands when they have a question to ask the teacher.
Perspective: Perspective sentences help explain the internal states of other people by describing things such as thought, emotions, and moods.
Example: It makes my teacher happy to see the students raise their hands to ask a question.
Directive: These form of sentences provide the student with direction that will help them be the most successful.
Example: When I have a question I will raise my hand.
As the social story is written these forms of sentences are then blended together into the social story fromula. This formula is 2-5 descriptive or perspective sentences per every 1 directive or control sentence. When writing your social story remember that control sentences (sentences that are written by the student) are optional.
This formula will help ensure that the social story you are creating is not just a list of demands, but instead filled with background information that will help your autistic child understand.
Steps to Writing a Social Story
Once you have a basic understanding of the social story formula, you are ready to roll! Before you sit down and start cranking out your social stories, there are three steps that you do need to follow.
Step 1: Decide what the story will be about. What is the goal of the social story? What is the skill or behavior that you would like to establish? How do you plan for this story to help the child?
Step 2: Create a profile for the child. What is the child passionate about? Do they enjoy reading? Where is their reading, writing, and comprehension level?
Step 3: Write the story. Now this doesn’t mean just sit down and spit it out. Each sentence needs be written with purpose and with the child in mind. Break your story into small chunks and spend some time searching for examples. What does your story need to include to help the child be most successful? Once you have this information gathered then start writing your sentences.
Social Story Template
One of the most common questions that I get is where can I find a social story template online? There are a ton of different websites and apps online that provide different templates for creating social stories. You can find a list of our favorite social story tools here.
Social Story Examples
If you are needing more social story examples head over to our What is a Social Story section of the site to find every single social story we have shared in the toolbox so far!
How to Write a Social Story PDF
And last but not least, we have created a “How to Write a Social Story” cheat sheet PDF just for you! You can find this in our shop for $1 or snag it for free at the bottom of this post in exchange for some quick social love.
Grab your Social Story Cheat Sheet here.
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