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What are Social Stories?

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Social stories are an evidence-based learning tool used to exchange information between the parents, ASD professionals and the children and adults diagnosed with ASD.

These were first conceptualized by Carol Gray, who was a teacher for autistic children in Michigan.

The ones who create and design these stories are referred to as “Authors” and the ones for whom these stories are created (the ASD children and adults) are termed as the “Audience “.

The authors work on creating content that are in most case short stories customized for the audience in question and it includes text that is personalized and usage of illustrations.  As long as you fulfill a prescribed criterion you too can be an author of these social stories.

The topics can be varied and range from how to brush your teeth, simplifying explanation for scientific theories to how to develop meaningful conversations with classmates.Using creativity to engage the autistic child incorporating their special talents and interests, while keeping in mind the unique comprehensive and social skills of these children is the crux of these stories.

Underlying Principles
The principles underlying the Social Stories are –

  • The Social deficits in Autism are shared with mistakes occurring on both sides of the social equation.
  • Both the Autistic person’s as well as the non-autistic person’s perspectives are valid and deserve respect.
  • Let go of all assumptions –Gather information about the audience first and then develop a story to fit it.


     

    Empirical Evidence

    Dr Tiffany Hutchins, a professor at University of Vermont whose research areas include social cognition in ASD and child language development, examined the validity of Social Stories for supporting the behavioral and communicative functioning of children with Autism spectrum disorder in 2013.

    Twenty children with ASD participated in this six-week long study and effects of behavioral stories to improve communication and to reduce behavioral upheavals and the perceptions of the parents regarding the functional outcomes of the children were assessed. Around 68% of behavioral stories and 53% of communication stories were rated as effective.

     

    Around the same time, a special education researcher, Robyn Thompson evaluated the effectiveness of Social Stories to enhance self-regulation in preschool children on the Autistic spectrum disorder.  The intervention consisted of reading sessions of social stories that contained personalized texts and illustrations and described desired behaviors and various self-efficacy techniques. The frequency of desired behaviors was analyzed and they concluded that social stories proved to be effective in increasing the frequency of desired behavior in ASD children.

    A special education psychologist in Iran, Fatemeh Golzari studied the impact of social stories on thirty male students with ASD.The effects of social stories were most observed in functions such as comprehension, Perspective talking and initiation and maintenance of social interactions with others.

    Hence the caregivers, school authorities and Autism professionals should base interventions incorporating social stories as an effective strategy to improve social behavior in children on the ASD spectrum.

    References

  1. Carol Gray Social Stories. What is a Social Story?

    Available at - https://carolgraysocialstories.com/social-stories/what-is-it/

  2. Hutchins TL, Prelock PA. The social validity of Social Stories™ for supporting the behavioural and communicative functioning of children with autism spectrum disorder. Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2013 Aug;15(4):383-95. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2012.743174. Epub 2012 Dec 6. PMID: 23216418.
  3. Thompson RM, Johnston S. Use of social stories to improve self-regulation in children with autism spectrum disorders. Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2013 Aug;33(3):271-84. doi: 10.3109/01942638.2013.768322. Epub 2013 Feb 26. PMID: 23437903.
  4. Golzari, Fatemeh & Hemati, Ghorban & Moradi, Shahram. (2015). The Effect of a Social Stories Intervention on the Social Skills of Male Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder. SAGE Open. 5. 10.1177/2158244015621599.
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