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Wednesday 26 Nov 2014

Social Stories for Students with Autism


Social Stories™ were developed by Carol Gray in 1991. She was a special education teacher who worked with students with autism. She is now the Director of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. Half of all Social Stories™ developed should affirm something that an individual does well. Although the goal of a Story™ should never be to change the individual’s behavior, that individual’s improved understanding of events and expectations may lead to more effective responses.” (From The Gray Center Website)

Since their development there have been many research studies investigating the impact of social stories on skill development for students with autism.

In 2008, Jeffrey M. Chan and Mark F. O’Reilly published the results of their study which involved 2 students with autism and a Social Stories Intervention Package used in an inclusion setting. The package consisted of three steps: (1) Read the story, (2) Answer comprehension questions, and (3) Role-play the social situation. All steps of the intervention were conducted outside of the classroom setting. They found that the social behaviors increased and inappropriate behaviors decreased for both students and the effects maintained over time.

In 2007, Shannon Crozier and Matt Tincani published the results of their study which investigated the use of social stories on the Prosocial Behavior of 3 preschoolers with autism. The intervention consisted of either reading the story only or reading the story plus verbal prompts during the target activity. They found that one student responded well to the social story alone and the positive effects maintained over time. One of the students improved when the social story was read but the effects did not maintain over time. The third child did not respond positively when the social story was read by itself, he required prompting during the target activity to positively effect his behavior.

In 2006, Georgina Reynhout and Mark Carter published a review of the research literature regarding the use of social stories. They found that overall the effects seen due to intervention were highly variable. They reported that many studies used a combination of intervention methods which makes it difficult to determine what role the social story played in behavioral improvements. They also found that data showing maintenance and generalization of skills taught using interventions based on social story use was limited. They conclude that social stories are a promising intervention method, but more rigorous research needs to be conducted.

For more information about how to write and implement social stories, visit these pages:


The New Social Stories Book: 10th Anniversary Edition

Social story examples from PolyXO

Social story examples from Kids Can Dream

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