Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Social Stories to help children who need a little extra guidance.

When we first learned about Social Stories to be used as a tool for children on the Autism Spectrum I wondered if:

1.  They would work.

2.  I could get the gist of it. 


3.  If I could "get it right" if I tried to make one (would my stick figures convey the story?).

In time I realised that:

1.  They do work for some children  in some situations, but you will only know if they work by trying them!

2.  I got the hang of it by actually doing it, and with some guidance from a lady who was helping us.

3.  I did "get it right" just enough for us.  I had to put aside feelings of "making it perfect" or "looking like the one in the book". 


4.  I believe that many children, not just those on the Autism spectrum could benefit from Social Stories if they seem to be "stuck" on a certain behaviour or in a certain situation.

I think the easiest way to explain what a Social Story is might be to give you an example of  something we wanted to try to change in one of our children, and then tell you what the story went like.

First up - I just used photocopy paper - four sheets, with a short amount of handwritten information at the top of each page, and then a large drawing underneath (stick figures). 

This is the story I wrote for him, and we read it often. He liked that it was a story about himself, and he often brought me the Clearfile with the story in so we could read it again and again.

The situation was:  One of our boys loved going to the ReUse shop, he really liked the man and lady who worked there, but his anxiety stopped him from speaking to them, or even answering when they spoke to him.

I will call this child X to protect his identity   :)    

When we go to the ReUse shop X loves to look at the tools and old toys.    Mr and Mrs P work at the ReUse shop, and they like X very much.
Here we have set the scene, and laid out the "characters"

When Mr and Mrs P say hello to X sometimes it makes X feel tight inside, and he doesn't know what to say.
After discussion with the child about when the problem comes up and how he feels, we write it in to the story.

X wants to say hello to Mr and Mrs P because he likes them very much, so he will try to say "Hello!"  He doesn't have to look at them.  If he can't manage to say "Hello" he might smile at them.
Here we explain what is "required" - i.e., what the child would like to achieve.  And an alternative if going the whole hog (saying "Hello") becomes too much.  It is important to use words like "he will try to say"

If X can say "Hello" to Mr and Mrs P, or smile at them, it will make them very happy, and they will know that X likes them.  X will feel very happy too!
We end the Social Story laying out how people might feel, and the benefit to the child if the change takes place.

I am not sure how far away I wandered from the original Social Stories path with the way I am doing it, but it seems to work.

So to recap -  the story is in about four parts:

1.  Sets the scene
2.  Tells the problem
3.  Gives a specific way that they may be able to achieve the goal
4.  Specifically tells a child how people may feel or what the result could be (don't promise anything! or set a child up to feel they have failed).

A Social Story might also be useful for a child who is hurting others' feelings, but has no idea that other people are feeling sad.   Or a child who wants to join in with other people, but tends to try and get themselves involved in an inappropriate way (which can often be typical of children with Asperger's Syndrome).

Check out Carol Gray's website, or any other information on Social Stories to get a better idea if you think it might help a child you love.


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