My son ..., who has Aspergers, is now 5 years old. He started full time school in September and is making pretty good progress in most areas. There have been a couple of incidents though that have been cause for concern. When the other children play rough and tumble he doesn't really understand how to do it back without hurting them or he even gets upset by it and acts out. He has scratched a boy on two occasions and really left a mark which is upsetting for all parties. I was wondering if you would be able to advise me on how to go about constructing a social story for [him]. ...
Here are some key things to consider when writing a social story:
- "Can't teach a new skill
- "Can remind a child where to apply an existing skill" (Smith, 2003)
Have a beginning, middle and end
Like any story, you need to set the scene, develop a theme, hit a climax and find a resolution. It should sound like a story, not a list of instructions or directions.
Cover where, what and who
Your story will need to describe where the behaviour is to occur, what may happen and who is involved. If you address these questions in your story, you are telling your child about the context for the desired behaviour so they know exactly when they are to use it, who they are to use it with and what is expected to happen.
The story must be written from your child's perspective. So try and see the event from your child's perspective, and when you are writing what you want your child to do make sure you write it in the first person. Just a note here that Gray (2000) does suggest that for older children/youth a social story should be written from a third person perspective - "Like a newspaper article" (appendix 13.10).
A different perspective
If you are stating a negative (what you want your child to avoid), then you should use a third person perspective.
The words you use
Make sure that you are using language that matches the language development of your child. Use words that he knows, understands and uses every day. Use picture sequences for young children with language difficulties, or reinforce your story with pictures. You will also need to make sure that your story matches your child's concentration span. The younger and more easily distracted your child, the shorter your story should be.
For some good examples of how to put these elements into a social story, visit http://www.connectability.ca/connectability/pages/lt_tipsheets/creating_social.pdf
Early Childhood Services Team (nd) Tip Sheet: Creating Social Stories. Retrieved 6th March from http://www.connectability.ca/connectability/pages/lt_tipsheets/creating_social.pdf.
Gray, C. (2000). The New Social Story Book: Illustrated Edition. Future Horizons: Texas
Smith, C. (2003). Writing and Developing Social Stories: Practical Interventions in Autism. Speechmark: UK.