How Our Brecksville ABA Therapists Use Social Stories to Help Kids With Autism
Children with autism spectrum disorder often have a difficult time mastering important life skills related to social interactions, communication, and transitioning from one activity to the next. They also tend to be more visual learners, meaning they may struggle to follow auditory directions. Our Brecksville ABA therapists have found that social stories are a great way to bridge the gap and effectively teach key skills.
A social story is a visual tool that accurately describes a skill, context, concept, or achievement and incorporate 10 specific criteria. These include having a defined purpose or goal, identifying the most critical information on a certain topic, having a clearly defined title, body, and conclusion, writing that’s in a supportive, positive, and literal voice, and crafting descriptive sentences that answer the basic WH questions. They also incorporate visual aids – graphics, pictures, or sometimes even pictures of the child themselves engaged in the activity or a picture of the exact place where the activity will/would take place. First person language (i.e., “I go to the store”) is often used, but not always.
The concept for social stories was around long before they were called that, but credit is usually given to teacher Carol Gray, a mother of four kids with autism who was looking for ways to help her students as well as her own kids with things like transitions to recess and what to expect in a line.
Today, our Brecksville ABA therapists use and recommend social stories to help with all kinds of scenarios. Some examples include (but aren’t limited to):
- How to use the bus
- Using or sharing toys
- How to talk to friends
- Staying in the house
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Understanding personal space
- Keeping your hands to yourself
- Listening to teachers
- Eye contact/staring
- Using your words
- What to do with big emotions
- Going on a trip (or to the doctor, grocery store, airplane, movies, etc.)
- Hitting, shouting, licking, spitting, biting, etc.
- Asking nicely
- Saying “No Thank You”
- Not using potty words
- Eating at the table
- Brushing teeth
- Using the potty
Social stories are a way that we explain social situations to kids on the autism spectrum to help them learn what they can expect in these scenarios – and what is expected of them. And while they were initially developed for kids with autism, they have turned out to be helpful for kids with other conditions like learning disabilities or intellectual disorders.
How Do Brecksville ABA Therapists Create Effective Social Stories?
Although not every story will work for every kid on the spectrum for every situation. In fact, part of the reason they work so well is because they are highly individualized. Social stories are a great tool for many people with autism because it can be tough for them to pick up on social cues that others notice naturally. Things like body language, eye contact, gestures, facial expressions – these are often difficult to read for kids with autism.
Although anyone can technically write a social story, it’s a good idea to get help from your child’s Brecksville ABA therapists when doing so. We help identify not only the activity with which the child is struggling, but also the specific skills they need to work on, and how we can break down the components of that activity to small, understandable bits.
Keeping it simple is really important. We want to make sure we’re focusing on very specific skills laid out in a very straightforward order with brief explanations as to the reasoning.
The stories can then be read to the child on an ongoing basis – and if possible, right before the event, as a reminder. As the child begins to understand the social situation and what is expected, the story can be phased out.
Research has shown that social stories can have a positive impact on the behavior of children with autism, though we like to also incorporate the use of other reinforcement tools, such as role play, feedback, and video modeling.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
The Effectiveness of Social Stories among Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Meta- Analysis, September 2016, By Mourad Ali Elissa Saad, Dean, College of Education, Arees University, International Journal of Psycho-Educational Sciences
More Blog Entries:
Choosing the Right Cleveland ABA Therapy Provider for Your Child With Autism, Sept. 19, 2022, Brecksville ABA Therapists Blog