When you walk into LEAP Autism Therapy, you will see a wall of social stories that we have on hand. They range from topics such as how to wear glasses, to having good sportsmanship, to learning about personal space. Social stories can be helpful to children who have autism because they are very visual, and they focus on what a child should be doing instead of what a child should not be doing.
Why use social stories?
Social stories are often used to help teach a child a particular life skill that they have difficulty learning. They are usually broken down into several steps to communicate the situation best. Social Stories can be used in conjunction with other forms of learning, such as role-playing and videos. Kiddos diagnosed with autism often benefit from using social stories because of the visual attraction and short sentence structure.
How to use a social story
As a therapist or parent, if you decide to use a social story, there are a few things to remember when you start using them.
Avoid the use of negative words.
Social stories are designed to capitalize on the strengths of children. Avoiding words such as don't or can't, may help the child digest the information better. Social stories are designed to show children their strengths and abilities so be conscious of using negative words.
Repeat Repeat Repeat
Reading a social story once and then putting it back on the shelf will not be beneficial to a child who has been diagnosed with autism. Instead, it is essential to continuously read the story to the child or have the child read it every day or even multiple times a day. If a child is constantly reading the same information, they will be able to digest the information eventually and, in turn, be able to perform the task that is being taught.
Pair social stories with other forms of learning
When you pair a social story with another form of learning, such as role-playing or modeling, a kiddo can start to learn how to generalize the task. For example, if you read a social story about brushing your teeth and then go into the bathroom and show them how you brush your teeth, the child can see the social story in action and hopefully learn to do the task themselves. You can also pair a social story with a video to show them how other people perform the task.
There are a ton of examples of social stories out there. If you are finding yourself stuck on how to teach a child a specific life skill or task, consider looking into a social story. If you are not sure where to find the right social story for the subject you want to teach, reach out to LEAP Autism Therapy, and one of our certified Behavior Analysts can direct you in the right direction!