Autism Spectrum Australia

Social stories

Social stories are useful in preparing children for situations before they happen

Back to Treatments, approaches and strategies

Social stories are short descriptions of real life situations that help children with autism and other disabilities to understand what they might expect from a specific situation or event, or to better interpret the circumstances surrounding something they may be experiencing. They are useful in preparing children for situations before they happen.

Social stories are helpful in assisting children to :

  • learn self-care and social skills;
  • understand why people behave in a particular way or to understand their own behaviour;
  • how to understand and address emotions like anger and how
  • cope with change, transition and distressing events.

They can also be used to provide positive feedback about a child’s positive behaviour and to encourage their strengths.

A social story can be both written or illustrated and should include very specific details of an event so a child is able to identify with each aspect of what they may be experiencing or are soon to experience.

To provide the best possible environment for the delivery of a social story, the atmosphere should be calm and relaxed. The story should be delivered directly to the child in a calm and re-assuring tone and preferably with their involvement in reading and reviewing the content of the story.

The story can be reviewed as often as required initially, and then repeated less frequently to reflect the child’s understanding of the story. Another approach may be to re-write the story to include partial sentences that the child is then able to fill in.

While short stories were designed specifically for children with autism they can also be helpful to young people and adults.

Back to Treatments, approaches and strategies

Social stories