This is a quick reference for writing a basic social story. There are other types of sentences that can be used but this will get you started.
What is a social story?
A social story is a short story written in a specific style and describes what happens in a specific social situation. It describes a certain situation, event or activity and includes specific information over what to expect. It can describe what people do, why they do it and what are the common responses.
Social stories can:
- Reduce anxiety
- Change behaviour from inappropriate to appropriate
- Help prepare for a new experience
- Affirmation – so a child can understand and recognise his or her own appropriate skills or behaviour
- To help prevent extreme reactions due to lack of social understanding
- To understand how others might respond in a situation
- To develop self care such as teeth brushing, keeping clean, not eating off the floor,
- To cope with change of routine
- To learn how to deal with strong emotions
Writing a social story
It is important to set the focus of the story so you are clear what you want to change or what you want the story to achieve. For example below I heard of someone on a Facebook page wanted a social story to stop a young lad eating stuff off the floor. The focus is to stop the child eating food off the floor. When you are sure what you are writing about then you can begin. Use first person where possible.
There is a certain structure in a social story:
- Descriptive sentences – These describes what happens. Where it happens. Who is involved, what they are doing. Why they are doing it. Use usually or sometimes not always!
The floor is usually dirty. People walk on the floor with dirty shoes. They might have walked in mud or dog poo. I sometimes have dirty shoes. I have walked on the pavements outside, on the grass, in the mud and the toilet floor. Sometimes there is food on the floor. It has usually fallen from the table or someone has dropped it by mistake. Sometimes I eat food that has fallen on the floor.
- Perspective sentences – These describe the reactions or responses of others in the situation. The reasons for their responses and the feelings of others. It may be thoughts, beliefs, feelings, opinion or health
When I eat off a plate my teacher and my family are happy. Food on a plate is clean. My teacher and family are sad when I eat food off the floor. My teacher thinks all food that has fallen on the floor needs to go into the bin.
- Directive sentences- these describe the desired response to the situation. They are written in positive terms.
I will try to eat off plates. I will try to put food that has fallen on the floor into the bin.
- Affirmation sentences-Enhance the meaning of other statements. A common belief, value or opinion. An important point, a law or a rule.
This is the right thing to do to stay fit and healthy.
When you write your story include photographs, clipart, or drawings to illustrate the story and make it more interesting. Read the story to the child many times until the desired outcome has been achieved.
Here are a couple that I have written.
I wrote this story to help a parent who wanted a social story to explain about tummy upsets for her little boy. After searching high and low with little success I wrote this.
If you have any social stories that you would be willing to share then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share them on this post.