Social Stories for Kids with Autism: I’m Going for Music Class!
What are Social Stories?
Social stories are a useful tool for children with autism or other learning needs to help them better understand social situations, events, or activities, so they can interact effectively and appropriately in social contexts. As the name suggests, social stories include a storyline to outline what may happen in a social context and highlight how to behave and respond appropriately in those situations. Social stories help create predictability as children can ‘follow the story’ to make sense of a particular context in real life.
Social stories can be individualized to the child’s needs, including using real-life photos of people they actually know and places that exist. This results in the social story becoming more concrete and easier to understand.
Why use Social Stories?
Social stories help autistic children become more aware of how a situation makes them feel. They are encouraged to think about the situation, their actions, and responses, thus creating a higher sense of self-awareness, and a better grasp of how one’s actions can be relevant in a particular context. When social stories are used correctly and often enough, our special learners are more likely to learn how to generalize important social cues to more than one type of social situation in the future.
Social stories are also usually written from the perspective of the child but they can provide insights into how others may react to the child’s behaviour. This helps to provide an additional perspective of other people, aiding in the managing of challenges learners with autism face in the theory of mind.
How to Develop Social Stories?
- Think about the purpose of your social story. Try to limit each social story to only one objective.
- Determine the audience. Who is it for?
- Decide on the level of representation. Should you use real life photos, or cartoons? Should your instructions be visual, or textual?
- Describe and focus on the positive behaviours you want to teach. Write from the perspective of the child, and focus on positive cues and behaviours instead of negative ones. Positive behaviours can be made more concrete with photos, speech bubbles, and pictures, while negative behaviours can be described verbally and glossed over.
- Repeat and practice! The more a social story is used, the more likely it will play out in real life. be translated into real-life.
Social Story: I’m Going for Music Class!
At The Radiant Spectrum, we developed social stories with the purpose to help two separate audiences, a) new students who come to the centre for the first time, to feel less anxious about their trial class and, b) existing students to learn and understand expected behaviours in a typical piano class.
In the slideshow below, you will see that we chose to use real photos of the centre for contextual representation. Using actual photos instead of drawings will help children as young as 3 years old understand their surroundings in a real and concrete manner. Each slide is designed to be structurally clear and clutter-free. Positive behaviours are mentioned more frequently and shown with happy faces, while negative behaviours (anxiety, fear) are shown minimally. This way, our learners can easily pick up on the behaviours we want to reinforce.