Social stories are one of the cornerstones of support tools for caregivers and team members surrounding children living with an autism spectrum disorder. Life’s lessons, many including the subtle nuances of appropriate social interactions that are difficult to learn can be taught with the simple use of a Social Story. However, Social Stories in themselves can be difficult, confusing or intimidating to write on your own. You may have questions surrounding exactly what information should be included to reach the goal ‘lesson’ to be taught. The sequencing of information, deletion of emotional inflection, inclusion of repetition, rhythm and rhyme may be questioned. Is the story you just wrote to teach your loved one, the right story? Will the message be received or confused even more?
Carol Gray, who initiated the use of Social Stories in 1991 has released “The New Social Story Book”, a Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition. In this new release, Carol Gray answers these questions and walks the reader through the steps necessary to write the right Social Story for the right situation. She has also included over 150 Social Stories that teach everyday social skills to children on the Autism Spectrum and their neurotypical peers. Some stories are broken into learning modules, allowing phases of complex situations to be taught in easier to understand blocks.
One of the most interesting Social Stories I found in “The New Social Story Book” was the three part module on chewing gum. Many of us may not think of using a Social Story around this, but when with so many children with ASD having Sensory Processing Disorder, gum chewing may be a necessity to make it through a routine or even the day. Likewise, bulling – how to recognize it, what to do to keep yourself under control when faced with it, and how to report it is an even more difficult situation many of our children will face. Knowing you have a ready-made Social Story on bullying, in modules, is comforting for when the time comes to teach this.
Additionally, Carol includes a CD with the ready-made Social Stories in both PDF format and Word format for printing and easy editing for your child in a specific situation. Images specific and relatable can be easily integrated making the Social Stories and their lessons more poignant.
Finally while reviewing these ready-made Social Stories, I was struck at how useful these stories would be in even teaching neurotypical toddlers, those with developmental delays, and others. Though I found the wording of the ready-made stories at a level higher than my son’s development, the concept was simple enough to transfer to easier to understand, plain language for my son. I was quickly taught the concepts and feel confident that I will be able to continue utilizing well thought-out Social Stories to help my son in his social situations.
About The Author:
Carol Gray has over 20 years of experience educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Carol initiated the use of Social Stories in 1991 and has written numerous articles, chapters, and books on the subject. She is the director of the Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding, a non-profit organization that serves people with ASD, and currently works privately with students, parents, and professionals in a variety of educational and vocational settings.
Every year, Carol gives many presentations and workshops throughout the world. She addresses topics related to the teaching of social understanding, bullying prevention, and friendship skills. Carol has received several awards for her work, including the Barbara Lipinski Award for her international contribution to the education of people with ASD.