"What is the best way to teach social stories? Should this be done by parents, a therapist, or in a peer-group setting? And are social stories good resources for the home-schooler?"
Indeed, social stories can be effectively used to teach appropriate behavior in a variety of settings. Social stories may be used by parents, therapists, or in peer group settings. And home-schooling parents often use social stories effectively. Social stories are used to address many psychological and social symptoms, including:
- A lack of imagination in play or expression
- Consistent shyness, anxiety, and unhappiness
- Depression during the years of adolescence and early adulthood
- Difficulty in relationships with others
- Feelings of isolation from others
- Obsessions, including irrational fears and anxieties
The Importance of Social Stories
Social stories are a teaching device for kids. The stories are used to teach everyday social skills to youngsters who have a diagnosis of Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism. The stories contain accurate and useful information for someone encountering situations that they may find difficult or confusing. The stories approach a topic by describing it in explicit detail and focus on teachable skills needed within the story. A typical social story will discuss a given situation, how someone is expected to react in that situation, and why the reactions are appropriate.
Deciding on an Appropriate Social Story
Social stories are individualized in that each youngster is seen as an individual whose problems accompany a diagnosis of Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism.
An appropriate social story captures the areas of the youngster’s life that are challenging. The Aspie’s behavior is evaluated by parents and teachers at home, in public, and at school. Parents, teachers, and therapists look at the child’s tantrums, withdrawal, social, and escape behaviors. They target these behaviors, and use a social story that addresses the behaviors.
Here's an example:
At school, we sometimes line up. We line up to go to the gym, to go to the library, and to go out to recess. Sometimes my friends and I get excited when we line up, because we’re going someplace fun, like out to recess. It is okay to get excited, but it is important to try to walk to the line. Running can cause accidents, and my friends or I could get hurt. I will try to walk to the line (the behavioral goal for the child).
As you can see, social stories are short and to the point. They are structured to describe social situations, explicitly describing what the Aspergers youngster can expect from the situation, and what society expects of the youngster.
The Benefits of Social Stories
Social stories are beneficial in that they focus on “theory of mind” impairments (i.e., mind blindness), which are inabilities to understand the feelings and behaviors of others. In addition, social stories not only provide information about social situations, but also help the child learn how to handle them. Socially relevant information, with illustrations and text, have been shown to be highly effective with young people on the autism spectrum.
Social stories in video format can be viewed here...