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Friday 19 Jan 2018

Social Stories

Article by: Stephanie Williams, MS, CCC-SLP

Several years ago, I accepted a job and moved to a new city.  I didn’t know a single person, but I was excited to start my new adventure.  One day, I was driving home from work and I got very, very lost.  My gas tank was on empty and I was in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood.  I began to tell myself, out loud, that everything would be ok – that I was safe in my car – that I would find a gas station soon – I could ask for directions – and eventually find my way home.  I’m sure that you have experienced similar events in your own life.  Situations where it helps if you “self-talk” yourself back to feeling safe and ok.  This is an example of a Social Story™.

Carol Gray, the creator of Social Stories™, describes them as a way 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.”

So, basically a Social Story™ can:

  • Provide information in an accurate but supportive manner.
  • Describe an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation.
  • Prepare an individual for an upcoming event.
  • Help an individual understand what is going on around them and the expectations of the situation.

Social Stories™ can be in low or high-tech form.  Low-tech stories can be handwritten or typed and can use picture symbols to support emergent readers.

Stories used to support social situations can also be programmed into an AAC device (e.g., Xpress) to provide auditory and visual information.  In addition, when a Social Story™ is programmed into an AAC device, it allows the individual to access their social stories whenever they are feeling uncomfortable or need to be prompted.

Example Social Story™ Script

  • Sometimes, we might have thunderstorms.
  • There might be thunder and lighting.
  • It might be a little scary.
  • Sometimes the lights might even go out.
  • But I can use a flashlight so that I can see.
  • It is fun to make shadow puppets on the wall.
  • The lights will eventually come back on.

To learn more about Social Stories™ visit the Gray Center at

Visit the Watson Institute Behavior Stories to download free stories

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