So as I sit down to start writing more curriculum pieces this morning, my mind immediately goes to social stories. They are by far my biggest seller on my teacherspayteachers store. It is also ironic, as I almost always thought I had students that were functionally too low to really benefit from this sort of intervention.
What are social stories? These are short stories that usually target a social, behavioral, or communication difficulty a person may have. The stories address what the problem is, when it may occur, and how to deal with that problem all in a positive and affirming tone. They are most often used with individuals who have autism, but their use has spread to many other situations as well. They were first started by Carol Gray, and although I never took one of her seminars, it did not stop me from writing my own. I found almost every story I wrote was unique to a particular student or situation, so it was always difficult to find a “ready-made” one that would fit.
How do you use social stories? These stories are NOT meant to be used when the problematic situation is occurring. They should be introduced in a place the student feels safest because it is likely that talking about a social situation may make them uncomfortable. I would usually try to have set times in the student’s schedule to read the story. Definitely first thing in the morning, and then shortly before I thought the situation may occur, like lunch time. I would also review it again at the end of the day. A copy always went home so the parents could read it with their child and also know how we were approaching a difficult situation they may also be experiencing. After a few days, or when it seemed the language of the story was becoming part of the student’s internal dialogue, I would try role-playing. It was a way I could assess their comprehension of the material without any formal test. I would also be very aware of when that social situation would possibly occur and be ready to feed them cues we practiced from the story.
Did they work? Sometimes. But here is the coolest thing I discovered about social stories: I WAS THE ONE WHO LEARNED. It helped me as a teacher and as a parent remember what cues to give the student when the situation occurred. It became part of MY internal dialogue. Once this “aha” moment occurred to me, I realized I should be using social stories for every single one of my students because they made me a better teacher and parent. Yes, it did help some of my students, and most loved the cool pictures I would find to insert into the story, as well as the repetition and predictable text patterns. It is so cool, how something specifically written for a kid helped me as an adult.
That is why I LOVE social stories.
I have written a lot of them, and you can check them out in my store: Special Needs for Special Kids. But remember, anyone can write a social story so give it a try!!
Grab this freebie while you are there (click on the image below):