Using Social Stories to help ASD individuals
Many people feel anxious when faced with a new experience, whether it is starting a new school/job, going on a date or taking the bus for the first time. Most of us will prepare ourselves for new situations in order to alleviate our stress and anxiety by doing research on the internet or speaking to friends. For an individual with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) this might be impossible.
Carol Gray, a consultant for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, developed the concept of social stories in 1991. Social stories are a helpful tool to help an individual with autism learn social skills as well as what to expect in new situations. Social stories can be created to help individuals manage a variety of situations including going to the doctor, traveling on an airplane, visiting relatives, preparing for social interaction with peers and greeting strangers.
A social story always contains certain basic elements:
A social story uses positive wording, telling an individual what to expect and not what they are doing wrong.
A social story uses four basic sentence types: descriptive, perspective, directive and affirmative sentences. For example: “A blood test helps a doctor know that I am healthy” or “When the needle goes into my vein, I will probably feel a tiny poke” are both descriptive sentences. An example of an affirmative sentence would be: “I will be happy if I try to do everything the doctor asks.”
A social story answers the “WH” questions: who, what, when, where, and how.
A social story is usually written in the first person. It may also be written in the second person.
Since individuals on the autism spectrum are very literal, they must be able to interpret the story literally without altering its intended meaning. Therefore, we use the words “usually “or “sometimes,” so that an individual does not assume something will always happen that way. We do not use “figures of speech” such as “chilling out,” which can be