A Social Story accurately describes a situation, skill, or concept according to defining criteria, with a content, format, and voice that is descriptive, meaningful, and physically, socially, and emotionally safe for the person for whom the Story is developed (www.thegraycenter.org).
When a teacher contacts me about a student with a repetitive social concern, I will often suggest a social story. I believe that social stories build an internal dialogue for small children or children with disabilities to be able to understand complex social situations. We often expect children to conform to an expectation when they don't really know how to obtain it.
I begin by asking the teacher to detail the behavior they would like to see.
I want Sarah to transition from the carpet with the rest of her class.
I also ask the teacher to describe the context when the behavior would happen.
I call the students to the desk by their row color. Sarah never seems to be listening and misses when her row is called.
I ask the teacher what behaviors are impeding the student from being successful.
Sarah starts to play with her shoes or her clothes when I am calling rows and completely zones out.
I will then incorporate the expectations, context, and barriers into my story. I like to start out with some identifiers that help the child to connect to the story.
My name is Sarah. I am in Mrs. Atkins' class in the 2nd grade. I like to read and learn about cats. Sometimes my class learns on the carpet and sometimes we sit at our desks. When we are on the carpet, Mrs. Atkins calls our rows by colors. It can be hard to listen for my row color. I might play with my shoes or my clothes and then I can be distracted by my thoughts. It's important that I am listening. I can put my finger on my ear to remind myself to listen. I can turn my head to look at the row color that is called. That will show Mrs. Atkins that I am listening to her. When my row color is called, I will stand up and walk to my desk quietly. When I show I am listening, Mrs. Atkins is happy. When I move with my class, we are able to learn together. My classmates are happy.
I have seen social stories make a big difference in little lives. Parents have come to me to request a story for home after seeing the success their child has had at school. I even wrote a story for my two year old about going to bed without screaming!
In case you don't have the time to sort through all the free resources included in this post, I have created a social story bundle over on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Please check it out!
What are your go-to social story topics? I have used my "picking your nose" story more times than I would like to admit!