Thursday, September 07, 2006

Clinic Notes: Social Stories for Children with Autism or Other Neuropsychological Disorders

What is a Social Story?
Social stories are short descriptions of how a child should behave in a wide variety of situations. Children with autism and Asperger's, as well as children with other disorders, have problems socially because of an inability to understand the point of view of others and their expectations. Everyday activities such as how to behave during circle time, what to say if someone compliments you, or how to handle bullying can be addressed by using social stories.
How to Use Social Stories.
Social stories are useful in teaching a child how to behave in situations when the therapist cannot be there to prompt and reinforce appropriate behavior. For example, if a child becomes aggressive at day care when another child takes a toy away then a social story about sharing or how to behave when a child takes a toy away can be very useful. A social story describing what the child should do to obtain a positive outcome, personalizing as much as possible the story for the child, is written. After reading the story to the child several times the child can be asked, "What do you do when Billy takes a toy you are playing with and starts playing with it himself?" If the child cannot remember the story or the answered then he/she can be cued. The correct answer may vary for different children in different settings. Telling the teacher might be appropriate in one situation; playing with another toy may be appropriate in another. At any rate the story is repeated until the child has memorized the correct answer. If the therapist finds out that child did engage in the appropriate behavior described in the social story then reinforcement in the form of praise and tangible reinforcement can be given at a later time.
How to Write a Social Story.
Social stories should be written from the point of view of the child and provide information on how to behave, what other expect, and the positive consequences of appropriate behavior. Social stories should be short and the child may have to memorize the correct way to behave and then replay the social story in his or her head when in the actual situation.

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