WHAT ARE SOCIAL STORIES?
Social expectations or the proper way to respond when interacting with others are
typically learned by example. People with communication difficulties and/or behavior
problems sometimes need more explicit instructions. Social stories are meant to help
children understand social situations, expectations, social cues, new activities, and/or
social rules. As the name implies, they are brief descriptive stories that provide accurate
information regarding a social situation. Knowing what to expect can help children with
challenging behavior act appropriately in a social setting. Parents, teachers, and
caregivers can use these simple stories as a tool to prepare the child for a new situation,
to address problem behavior, or even to teach new skills in conjunction with reinforcing
HOW TO WRITE A SOCIAL STORY
Begin by observing the child in the situation you are addressing. Try to take on the
child’s perspective and include aspects of his or her feelings or views in the story. Also, include usual occurrences in the social situation and the perspective of others along with considering possible variations.
There are three types of sentences used in writing social stories
- Descriptive sentences: objectively define anticipated events where a situation, who is involved, what they are doing, and why. (e.g., When people are inside,
Perspective sentences: describe the internal status of the person or persons
involved, their thoughts, feelings, or moods. (e.g., Running inside could hurt me or
Directive sentences: are individualized statements of desired responses stated in a
positive manner. They may begin “I can try...” or “I will work on...” Try to avoid
sentences starting with “do not” or definitive statements. (e.g., I will try to walk in
A social story should have 3 to 5 descriptive and perspective sentences for each directive sentence. Avoid using too many directive sentences. They will be lost without adequate contextualization. Write in first person and on the child’s developmental skill level. Also remember to use pictures that fit within the child’s developmental skill level to supplement text.