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Learning Approaches - Social Stories

Social Stories were developed in 1991 by Carol Gray as a tool for teaching social skills to children with ASD. They address "Theory of Mind" deficits, that is, the ability to understand or recognize feelings, points of view or plans of others. Through a story developed about a particular situation or event, the child is provided with as much information as possible to help him or her understand the expected or appropriate response. The stories typically have three sentence types: descriptive sentences addressing the where, who, what and why of the situation; perspective sentences that provide some understanding of the thoughts and emotions of others; and directive sentences that suggest a response. The stories, which can be written by anyone, are specific to the child's needs, and are written in the first person, and present tense. They frequently incorporate the use of pictures, photographs or music.

Before developing and using social stories, it is important to identify how the child interacts socially and to determine what situations are difficult and under what circumstances. Situations that are frightening, produce tantrums or crying, or make a child withdraw or want to escape, are all appropriate for social stories. However, it is important to address the child's misunderstanding of the situation. A child who cries when his/her teacher leaves the room may be doing so because he/she is frightened or frustrated. A story about crying won't address the reason for the behavior. Rather a story about what scares the child and how he can deal with those feelings will be more effective.


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Jeff, Age 35