SEND & Inclusion
Autism: Social Stories
Social stories can help autistic people develop greater social understanding and help them stay safe.
What are social stories?
Social storiesTM were created by Carol Gray in 1991. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.
The terms ‘social story’ and ‘social stories’ are trademarks originated and owned by Carol Gray.
What are social stories for?
Social stories can be used to:
- develop self-care skills (eg how to clean teeth, wash hands or get dressed), social skills (eg sharing, asking for help, saying thank you, interrupting) and academic abilities
- help someone to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation
- help others understand the perspective of an autistic person and why they may respond or behave in a particular way
- help a person to cope with changes to routine and unexpected or distressing events (eg absence of teacher, moving house, thunderstorms)
- provide positive feedback to a person about an area of strength or achievement in order to develop self-esteem
- as a behavioural strategy (eg what to do when angry, how to cope with obsessions).
How do social stories help?
Social stories present information in a literal, ‘concrete’ way, which may improve a person’s understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity. The presentation and content can be adapted to meet different people’s needs.
They can help with sequencing (what comes next in a series of activities) and ‘executive functioning’ (planning and organising).
By providing information about what might happen in a particular situation, and some guidelines for behaviour, you can increase structure in a person’s life and thereby reduce anxiety.
Creating or using a social story can help you to understand how the autistic person perceives different situations.
My toys belong to me. They are mine.
Many of my toys were given to me
Some of my toys have my name on them.
I may play with my toys or share them with someone.
I have toys that are mine.
(Carol Gray’s The new social story book, 2015 )
(www.autism.org.uk, January 2022)