How A Social Story Can Improve Your Child's Behaviors

Kids Health The Newsletter About Taking Care Of The Ones That Matter Most

“My ChildWas Having Troubles Learning To Use The Bathroom, So I Decided ToDo Something. ” HowA Social Story Can Improve Your Child’s Behaviors

Key Criteria of a Social Story™ Social stories are written for a variety of reasons. Some of these include teaching a new skill (e.g. how to use the bathroom), how to respond to something in the environment (e.g. what to do when a fire truck goes by), preparing for an upcoming situation or event (e.g. going to the doctor), communicating rules or expectations (e.g. how to behave in church), how to get along with others (e.g. sharing toys), or describing another’s point of view on a subject (e.g. some people don’t like dogs). Regardless of the reason for the story, included below are some key criteria that should be a part of each one: 1. Clear title and topic – Every Social Story™ should have a title and introduction that clearly identifies the topic, detail in the body of the story, and a conclusion that reinforces and summarizes all the information presented. 2. Safe and literal language – The story should be physically, socially and emotionally safe for the person it’s intended for. It should be literally accurate for the situation so that nothing in the story miscommunicates anything unsafe, disrespectful or threatening to self-esteem in any way. 3. Acknowledgment – At least 50% of the social story should applaud achievements. 4. Individualization – The Social Story™ should be individualized to the person it’s intended for so it is tailored to their learning abilities, physical abilities, talents, attention span and interests. 5. Positive tone – Social Stories™ should be written in first or third person and have a positive, supportive tone. 6. Clear content – Social Stories™ should always answer where, when, who, what, how and why regarding the topic using reassuring language. 7. Simple structure – Sentence structure is critical to a well-written Social Story™ and there are several recommended types: • Descriptive – This is the only required sentence type with all others being optional. Descriptive sentences are statements which are objective, factual and not open to debate. (e.g. Bedtime at my house is at 8:00 p.m.) • Perspective – These sentences refer to the child’s or someone else’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs or motivations. One needs to be careful about assuming the internal motivations of the child when using this type of sentence, however. (e.g. Mom will be happy when I pick up my toys.) • Sentences that coach – These sentences gently guide behavior by suggesting a response or choice of responses. (e.g. I can take a break when things get too loud.) •Affirmative–Thesesentencesemphasizean importantdetailor reassure.

They often follow descriptive sentences. (e.g. It’s important to take turns so everyone stays safe.) • Partial – These encourage the child to retrieve important concepts in an effort to promote application of that concept by filling in the blank. (e.g. I can take a break when _____________.) 8. Be descriptive – Social Stories™ should be more descriptive than directive. 9. Add pictures – Pictures can aid in enhancing the child’s understanding of the content, particularly if the child is young. 10. Repetition – Read the story with the child frequently for increased certainty on what is possible and/or expected, particularly before a challenging situation where the non-optimal behavior is likely to occur. Social Stories™ are a valuable teaching tool for many types of social and daily living situations. When written for the interest of the child intended for, they are engaging, offer predictability and can reduce anxiety and uncertainty in confusing or frustrating times. As the child uses the Social Story™ and the targeted behavior improves, you may find less of a need for it. You may also find that a few tweaks or changes can make it even better. Don’t be afraid to edit it. Above all, make your Social Story™ affirming, fun and inspirational. Your efforts as an author will go a long way towards supporting your child’s social and behavioral success!

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