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Social Stories… What are they and how do they help?

Social stories are short narratives aimed at describing the social rules and expected behaviors of various situations. They have been a valuable tool for helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social-emotional disorders. These carefully worded stories provide children with specific strategies for success in different social situations. Social stories can also be used to help children prepare for upcoming life transitions (starting school, moving to a new town/city). Here at Abilities, we use social stories frequently to help our children overcome challenging situations. While it may take a little prep work, generating a quick social story for a child that is struggling to be successful with transitions or social exchanges is definitely worth the extra effort. Below is an example of a social story about an upcoming life transition and the new social expectations that come along with it.


John Meets New People!

Now that I am a big boy, I will be going to big kid school and meeting a lot of new people. Some will be adults like Mom and Dad and some will be kids like me.

It is good to meet new people so that I have even more friends to play with.

When I meet a new person, I may feel shy or nervous, but that is okay. I am brave and can say hello!

When I meet someone new, I will look at their face and say “HI!” loudly enough so that they can hear me.

After I say “Hi”, I will need to wait for my new friend to say hello to me.

If my new friend is too shy to say “Hi”, I will smile and say “See you later!”.

If my new friend says hello back to me, I can ask them some questions.

Asking my new friend questions makes them feel good and lets them know I want to be friends.

I can look at their face and ask…. How old are you?

I can look at their face and ask…. Do you want to play?

I can look at their face ask… What is your favorite game?

My friend may ask me questions. I will need to have good listening ears to be able to answer my friend’s questions. I will look at my friend’s face when they are asking me questions so they know I am listening.

My friend may ask me… How old are you?

My friend may ask me… Do you want to play?

My friend may ask me… What is your favorite game?

It is important that I look at my friends face and answer my friend’s questions so that they don’t think I am rude, or not interested in being their friend. If I look at people’s faces when I say “Hi!”, talk loudly enough that they can hear me, ask them questions, and answer their questions, I will make many new friends to play with.


Short stories like this one can be so simple to write and can make a big difference in your child's success at school or on the playground. Next time your child is struggling with a specific social situation or transition, take some time to come up with a social story. Make sure to write it at an appropriate age-level and consider writing it in the first person and using pictures of your child to make it even more interesting for them.

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