Social situations can make us feel nervous, anxious or stressed when we aren’t exactly sure what is expected of us. Can you recount a time in your life that you left a party early because you struggled to make conversation with the group? Or an instance when you didn’t go to an outing because you weren’t sure what it would entail?
In order to not miss out on these events, we use different strategies to help us feel more comfortable with the situation. When we get to a new place, such as an amusement park, we might look at the map to get a feel for the layout. When we are taking a new class, we might ask someone who has taken it previously questions about the teacher and the curriculum. When we are going to someone’s house for a get-together, we might ask them ahead of time who is invited. Each of these strategies help us have a better idea of what is to come and eases the transition.
For a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, social stories are a strategy the therapists at Mobile Therapy Centers use to help the child prepare for what is to come. Social stories provide a visual of a social situation the child may encounter, and the behavior that is expected of them. What is great about social stories is that they can depict practically any situation and they are tailored to fit their exact needs.
We pair social stories in our ABA Therapy sessions with discrete trial teaching to teach our clients adaptive and socially appropriate behaviors. For example, we can create a social story for a client on what is expected when they wash their hands, and then teach and reinforce the skills of handwashing. In addition, we incorporate social stories into our session to help recognize others feelings. Scenarios such as what to do or say when a friend is sad. We also use social stories in our protocols to decrease challenging behaviors. For example, if a child throws tantrums when their siblings touch their toys, a social story can be used to teach the child that it is okay for others to touch their toys.
If you are interested in making your own social story for your child, there are a variety of apps and websites that provide platforms to help make them. Storyboardthat.com is one resource to make an individualized social story, and the website allows you to make two free social stories per week! At Mobile Therapy Centers we believe making and reading social stories is one step closer to new adventures!