Supporting Children with Autism with Social Stories

Michelle Morgado, MA, CCC-SLP | Speech-Language Pathologist
February 14, 2023

Social Stories are short stories used as teaching tools for children with autism that describe a potentially challenging situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses. They are written or tailored to a child with autism understand and behave appropriately in social situations. Social Stories have a specifically defined style and format.

What are Social Stories?
Social Stories describe a situation in terms of relevant social cues, and the perspective of others, and often suggest an appropriate response. They may also be used to applaud accomplishments. Social Stories break down a challenging social situation into understandable steps by omitting irrelevant information and by being highly descriptive to help an individual with autism understand the entirety of a situation. They also include answers to questions such as who, what, when, where, and why in social situations through the use of visuals and written text.

How are Social Stories used?
Social Stories are used to teach particular social skills, such as identifying important cues in a given situation; taking another’s point of view; understanding rules, routines, situations, upcoming events, or abstract concepts; and understanding expectations. Social Stories can provide information in an accurate but supportive manner, describe an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation, prepare an individual for an upcoming event, or help an individual understand what is going on around them and the expectations of the situation.

Possible outcomes of using Social Stories
The goal of a Social Story is to reveal accurate social information in a clear and reassuring manner that is easily understood by the individual with autism. An improved understanding of the events and expectations may lead to a change in behavior.

Examples of Social Stories
Examples of situations when a social story would be appropriate are:

  • “Going to the grocery store”
  • “Going to school”
  • “Going to the doctor”
  • “Riding the bus”

Where do I find Social Stories?
It is beneficial to create your own Social Stories with photographs that pertain to the child’s personal environment (i.e. a picture of your child’s bus driver, or a picture of the actual grocery store you frequent). This can help your child better relate to and connect with the information presented in the Social Story.

Autism Speak and the University of Washington have partnered to create editable PowerPoint templates that you can use to create Social Stories personalized for your child.

The New Social Story Book is a great resource for learning how to create Social Stories.

Would you like more support in writing and using Social Stories for your child? Contact us to find out more about our services for children with autism.


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