October 8, 2012

DEV-Creating Social Stories for Students with Autism & Behavior Disorders

Creating Social Stories for Students with Autism & Behavior Disorders
Social stories topped my to-do list yesterday. I needed one for arguing, another social story for bathroom etiquette, and a final social story for hallway behavior.  

Although social stories are a huge part of some of our students’ daily school life, I’ve never had an “official” training on writing social stories and neither have any of my colleges. To help other teachers in the same boat, here is my quick guide to creating social stories for students with autism or behavior problems.

What are social stories?
Social stories are most common with students who are on the autistic spectrum; however I also use them with all my students when I see appropriate. They are simple stories that help remind students about appropriate social behavior. 

My students are young (kindergarten through 2nd grade), so I like to keep my stories simple and only one page in length.   I also like to have pictures for almost every sentence so that my students have a picture cue to go along with the words.   

I wanted to share my process for creating a social story to help out other teachers out there who don’t know where to begin.

Identify Behavior for Social Stories
I begin by identifying the behavior that I want to modify.  One of mine, for example, is about hallway behavior.  One particular student was having difficulty walking in the hallway quietly and keeping her hands off the wall.  

Find Social Stories Online Resources
Now that I have the behavior identified, I go to Google.  I like to search for social stories that are already written so that I might not have to reinvent the wheel.  I also have a few favorites I check out such as:

There is also the website for The Gray Center which is where social stories were “invented.”  I find this website a little bit helpful, but the social story examples on it are way too long and involved for the students I currently teacher.  

Write Your Own Social Stories
If I do not find any examples, then I need to write my own.  My recent hallway social story goes like this:

Sometimes I have to walk in the hallway.
I need to keep my voice and feet quiet in the hallway.
My hands stay at my sides.
It makes my teachers happy when I walk quietly in the hallway. 

Add Pictures to Social Stories
As I said earlier, I also include pictures to go with the story.  With my pictures, I first start by going to the program Boardmaker (if you have never used this, definitely check it out) and see if there are any picture I can use.  I like the pictures in Boardmaker because they are simple.   I also recently realized that I can edit them slightly to fit my particular needs.  

If I have no luck on Boardmaker then it is back to Google I go to check out images.  (Just make sure you are careful of copyright.)  For this particular story, I also use a picture of the school hallway that I took myself.

Proof & Review with Co-Teachers & Para-Pros
After it is all put together, I print out my social story and have one of my wonderful paraeducators read over it.  I like their point of view to make sure it makes sense.  Also they are the ones who often will review a social story with a child after I initially introduce it. 

Share Social Story with the Student(s)
Once I am happy with the final product, the student and I will read it together.  I like to read it with the student just before they will be going into a particular social situation or as needed per social incident.  Some students will read a social story daily before going to lunch or out to recess.  Other students only read it as necessary. 
I hope this helps a bit with how I go about social stories!

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