How to Write a Social Story

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Social stories are tools that educators, therapists and even parents can use to teach children and individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appropriate social behavior and responses. In this blog post, the trusted experts at Innovative Speech Language and Pathology share more information on social stories as well as discuss guidelines on how to write one.

What Is a Social Story?

A social story is a simple strategy to help individuals learn and understand the appropriate social and living skills used for certain social situations. Social stories address specific situations such as how to get along with their peers in school, what to do during a fire drill, how to deal with a tragedy, or safety precautions to take in or around a pool.

Social stories are a great way to reinforce appropriate social behaviors and responses because they break down said behaviors and responses into simple steps. Social stories can also help children cope with unexpected changes and teach them routine for better retention.

Guidelines for Writing a Social Story

When writing a social story for your child, start by identifying a situation or behavior in which your child is having difficulty understanding. Begin to write the story using descriptive, perspective and directive sentences.

Descriptive sentences describe what people do in certain social situations and answer the following questions:

  • What is the situation?
  • Who is involved?
  • What are they doing?
  • Why are they doing it?

Perspective sentences describe other people’s reactions to the situation. The goal of perspective sentences is for the child to learn how other people will perceive or react to the situation or a specific action or behavior. An example of a perspective sentence is, “Mom and dad will be so proud of me.”

Directive sentences describe what the desired behavior or response is. An example of a directive sentence is, “I can stand in line and hold my food tray until it is my turn to get food.” When writing directive sentences, try to frame everything in positive terms and avoid using words like “do not.” It is recommended that social stories be more descriptive than directive. When writing a social story, try to maintain a ratio of at least two descriptive sentences for every directive sentence.

If your child doesn’t appear to be responding to the social story, try adjusting the content by using vocabulary that matches their age and reading level, and include more images. You can also have your child help write the social story.

If you have more questions on how to write a social story, the qualified therapists at Innovative Speech Language Pathology are here to help. Schedule an appointment with us and a member of our team will gladly meet with you and answer your questions. Please contact our Beverly Hills office by calling (310) 659-9511 today.