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Wednesday 20 Aug 2014

How Do I Use Social Stories to Increase Positive Behavior?


Social stories are simple stories, written from the perspective of the child, which describes a social situation and the expected/appropriate social behaviors for that situations. These stories should follow a predictable format as outlined by Carol Gray, the developer of social stories. In a paper written by Spence, Simpson and Lynch, they describe a process for implementing social stories to increase positive behavior.

The first step is to identify the problem behavior which may entail conduction a functional behavior assessment to clearly identify when and why maladaptive behaviors are occurring. Social stories are then developed as part of the behavior intervention plan if they are deemed appropriate for the individual. Behavior intervention plans primarily consist of three components: antecedent strategies, replacement behaviors and consequence strategies. Antecedent strategies are those things we can do before the inappropriate behavior occurs to reduce the likelihood of eliciting disruptive behavior. Replacement strategies are those behaviors we teach the individual to get their needs met which replaces the disruptive behavior. Consequence strategies are those things we do in response to the inappropriate behavior and in response to the appropriate behavior.

Social stories fit into the behavior intervention plan in three ways. First, the social story should describe the replacement behavior being taught. Secondly, the story is read by (or to) the individual as an antecedent strategy to prime the individual. Lastly, the skills being portrayed in the social story should be practiced in repeatedly to give the individual a lot of experience using the replacement behavior and receiving the reinforcing consequences for engaging in the appropriate behavior.

The Format
While there are differences of opinion regarding the specific format of social stories, Carol Gray has developed guidelines for developing effective social stories. They should, at minimum, include:

  • 2-5 sentences describing the appropriate behavior in a social situation
  • 1 sentence describing positive, observable appropriate responses
  • 1 sentence describing the viewpoint of others as they react to the situation
  • 1 sentence describing a commonly shared value or opinion
  • 1 sentence that reminds the individual of the appropriate behavior in the social situation

For more information, we suggest reading the article below (and any book by Carol Gray).

Reference: Spencer, V.G., Simpson, C.G., and Lynch, S.A. (2008). Using Social Stories to Increase Positive Behaviors for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(1), 58-61.