Social Stories for Asperger’s and Autism

This post is about how to write simple stories or Social Stories for Asperger’s and Autism students.

One of my all-time favorite letters that I have received from a parent was from Mom Patty, telling me about how she wrote a simple story to help her son manage being on a  baseball team.  Here’s her story.

Last night my son had his first Little League game. (Our city has a league specifically for challenged kids) and it didn’t take me long to realize that I had not done a good job in preparing him.

I went home and went to work on a social story complete with pictures we had just taken at the game.  I remembered you saying visual strategies didn’t have to be complicated — just try one.

This morning at the breakfast table I showed him the story “Tommy plays baseball” and he was thrilled.  We talked about every aspect including how to recognize his team members and coaches by the color of their shirt.  He can’t wait to try again on Saturday.  

The whole thing took a short time and will hopefully make the experience better for everyone.

Thanks for conducting such a practical seminar.  You took something that had seemed daunting in the past and turned it into a reality for our family.
Patty (Mom)

Mom Patty wrote a great story to give her son the information he needed to understand being on a baseball team. Perhaps she didn’t quite follow the formula of Carol Gray’s Social Stories™.  But that’s OK.  What she did do is provide the details that her son needs to participate successfully on his team.

Mom Patty accomplished something extremely important.  In fact, it was so hugely (is that a word???) important that if she were standing next to me I would give her a hug, put a crown on her head and release a thousand helium filled balloons into the sky.  Mom Patty, did something even more important than writing a perfect Social Story™.

Here’s why Mom Patty would get my applause.

  1. She created an opportunity for her son with ASD to try participating in a new social event.  (Baseball is a sport, but sports are social events.)
  1. She immediately recognized that he wasn’t properly prepared for the situation.  (Gee . . . that happens to parents and teachers frequently.  It is best to try to think ahead about what will occur in a new situation so we can prepare students, but there are always things we didn’t think of or anticipate.)
  1. She took action right away to create something to help him.  (How long does a challenging situation go on before the adults decide to handle it?  I talked to a Mom recently who told me a particular problem situation had been going for two years.  Two years???)
  1. Mom Patty created a VISUAL tool to help her son.  (Yes . . . yes . . . yes . . .  We know our students with autism and Asperger’s respond really well when we give them VISUAL information.  By now we realize that most of them are visual learners so visual tools work really well.)
  1. She identified exactly what information her son needed.  (There is so much that other children “just know” but that our children with Asperger’s and autism need to be specifically taught.  What does it mean when some ball players are wearing blue shirts and others are in red? It’s a great example to demonstrate we can’t assume what students understand.)
  1. Son and Mom looked at the new visual tool in a nice un-rushed way so he could devour the information to get prepared for the next game.  (She didn’t wait until the next game.  She presented that story right away so they will have the opportunity to go over it several times before the next game.  Students with autism and Asperger’s benefit from repetition.  One of the benefits of using a visual tool is that it makes repetition easy.)
  1. Son was thrilled.  (That means Mom Patty created a story in a way that son could look, engage and understand.  It was meaningful to him.)

Mom Patty wrote a story about an event that her son was participating in.  She used it to give him the information he needed.

I attended a conference recently about “work productivity.”  When I entered the auditorium, there was a huge banner on the wall.  It said, “GET IT DONE FAST.”  That’s what Mom Patty did.  She got it done . . . . FAST.

There are always opportunities for events or situations that are new, different, changed from what happened before or present unexpected surprises.  Giving students with Asperger’s and autism information in the form of little stories or Social Stories™ they can understand quickly and easily will help those students enjoy success when they try new or different activities.

Writing simple stories or Social Stories™ for Asperger’s and Autism students helps them learn new skills and achieve success.

The story in this post does not follow the formula for Carol Gray’s Social Stories™. Check out Carol Gray’s The New Social Story Book for more info about how to integrate Social Stories into communication systems. Check out Carol’s website for an explanation of her “official” Social Stories™. 

Just keep in mind that whether you are using an “official” Social Story™ or you are using using written stories and written conversations, the goal is usually to give the students information to help them learn to manage situations that may be difficult for them.



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