I have chosen to write about Social Stories and how they can help children and adolescents with ASD because I have worked with these students and I have noticed that using these stories has greatly helped them develop their social skills. The age of the students I have worked with ranges from four to twelve years, and to be honest I have not tried to read them in older children. However, I know that some teachers have read them in older adolescents with ASD and they have also seen positive results.
What is autism?
We are referring to a spectrum of disorders, because all individuals with ASD do not usually present a common behavior, but in most cases different behaviors are noticed from one person to another which makes it very difficult to find common characteristics between them. However, autism spectrum disorder involves several brain functions that have not yet been fully understood. Autism is not a psychiatric illness, but a developmental disorder that begins to exist from birth and lasts a lifetime. A common feature between people with autism is that they lack some psychological and social skills that are related with the positive development of social relationships and communication.
Asperger Syndrome is also one of the disorders which belong in the autism spectrum, characterized by the lack of social skills, but not by the lack of language development.
People with ASD have to “learn” social behaviors, as they are not a part of their maturation process.
What are Social Stories?
Social Stories were created by Carol Gray in order to help people with autism and Asperger Syndrome learn all the appropriate social behaviors. They are stories that describe various social situations in a way that is perceived by a person with ASD and not a typically developed person. In order to achieve this, Gray worked with many children with ASD, as well as with their parents and teachers. Using these stories helps not only people with ASD, but also typically developed people who can understand the social behavior of a person with ASD.
Social Stories can refer to the development of a new skill, such as handwashing, but also to the development of specific behaviors, such as students’ daily morning routine before they go to school. It can also focus on conflict resolution strategies and the processes that students may follow in order to make new friends and become socially acceptable.
Who and where can use a Social History?
I will refer to my own personal experience; As a special educator, I have used social stories to "teach" some social skills to my students with ASD. First, I tried to create an 'empty' by 'distractions', such as intense colors, room. I should note, of course, that this is often difficult to achieve, especially in mainstream schools which do not have the appropriate special provision for people with ASD. Then, I used to invite my students to come with me and I was describing the whole process as a very fun game. The writing style of each story depends on the age and needs of each student. Sometimes I even used puppets in order to make the story more fascinating. Therefore, teaching assistants and special educators can read these stories to their students and create social clubs with the support of the class teacher.
Social Stories can also be used by the parents of children with autism spectrum disorders at home. However, parents need to discuss this first with the teachers of their child. As mentioned above, the way social stories are written is "special" and varies according to the age and needs of each student.
Where Can I Find some Social Stories?
Here are some links that you can use to find some Social Stories: