If you’re the parent, caregiver, or teacher of a child with autism spectrum disorder, you are well aware of the social challenges kids with autism face, and if you’re looking for Social Stories for kids with autism, you’ve come to the right place.
While it has been said that no two individuals with autism are the same, social challenges are one of the hallmark symptoms of autism. A child with ASD may seem emotionally detached, have difficulty interpreting the thoughts and feelings of others, and struggle to see things from someone else’s perspective.
They may also have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors.
But there is hope.
With autism diagnoses being handed out as frequently as they are, the internet is full of autism resources, and there are heaps of Social Stories for kids with autism that help teach basic life skills. From potty training and tooth brushing to learning not to hit and bite and simple self-regulation strategies, we’ve got 21 social story templates and apps to help your child with autism.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is a Social Story?
Created by Carol Gray, Social Stories are written descriptions of everyday situations and events told from a child’s perspective. The intention behind Social Stories is to give a child something to rehearse so that she’s prepared once the situation described actually takes place. This can be an excellent strategy to prepare your child for toilet training, to help encourage her to try new foods, to teach her what is (and is not) appropriate behavior, to help her understand important safety issues, and to teach her other life skills.
Check out the book The New Social Story Book by Carol Gray for more details on how to use Social Stories to teach social skills to kids with autism.
How to Write a Social Story
While there are tons of free Social Stories available online as well as printable Social Stories you can download for a minimum fee, customized Social Stories tend to do best as they can speak to your child’s individual needs and include real life photos of the people and places related to the skill you are trying to teach.
Social Stories can be as simple or complex as you want to make them – don’t let the gorgeous videography and photography of others scare you off! You don’t need a degree in computer programming, nor do you need to be a renowned photographer to learn how to write a Social Story. All you need is a little creativity to find ways to explain life skills to your child.
Here are some basic tips on how to write a Social Story to get you started:
- Start with a goal. What is it you are trying to teach your child? You should only have one goal per Social Story, and it should be very clear.
- Be a detective. Gather all of the information you need to write your Social Story. What skills does your child need in order to master the skill you are trying to teach? What obstacles do you foresee hindering your child’s ability to learn this skill? What tools and props can you use to facilitate openness to learning this skill?
- Use the right language. Social Stories should be written in the first person from the child’s point of view. Remember to use simple, positive, age-appropriate language and to incorporate descriptive sentences (the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of your story), offer perspective (how will the child react and feel?), and give clear direction (what is expected of the child?).
- Provide simple steps. When providing direction, break the skill or situation down into simple steps your child can follow. Remember that kids on the autism spectrum are very literal, so don’t skip the steps your feel are implied as your child may not pick up on these nuances.
- Include social scripts. If there is a verbal component to the skill you are trying to teach, make sure it is clearly outlined with a social script your child can follow.
- Appeal to special interests. If your child loves a certain TV character or has another special interest, use that to your advantage!
- Include photos. Children with autism are often visual learners, so try to incorporate visuals wherever possible. Ideally, you should use real-life photos of people, events, and places to make the Social Story as real as possible.
- Practice. Read the story with your child on multiple occasions and provide opportunities for her to practice the skill you are trying to teach. Have her read the story with others, and consider creating additional practice cards when teaching complex skills.
Social Story Examples
We have tons of great Social Stories app recommendations and Social Story templates below, but before we get to that, I wanted to share a couple of Social Story examples to help put you in the right mindset so you understand what they are all about.
I found a ton of No Hitting Social Story examples online, and they offer the perfect example of how simple or complex you can make them depending on your needs and how creative you are. Here are my favorites:
The I Will Not Hit Social Story by Boardmarker is a very basic example of a Social Story that can be created on a computer with clip art. Click here to access.
Paid Download ($4) with Additional Tools:
The No Hitting Social Story for Children by Teachers Pay Teachers comes with a color copy of a story available for download as well as downloadable desk cards for visual reminders. Click here to access.
Free YouTube Clip:
If you do a quick search on YouTube, you find a ton of social stories about common topics. I particularly love the WonderGroveKids channel (subscribe for free here) and this clip offers a fun way to teach kids why they should keep their hands to themselves.
Social Stories App Recommendations
If you want to make your own Social Stories but aren’t really the writing type, there are a lot of fabulous Social Stories apps you can download to your smartphone or tablet. Here are a few of my favorites!
If you’re going to purchase software to create your own Social Stories, this is the app I recommend. It includes exclusive content by Carol Gray (creator of the Social Stories methodology) and it allows you to create your own Social Stories using pictures, text, and audio. What I love most about this app is the fact that you can email and print your creations, making it a HUGE time-saver for busy parents, teachers, and therapists!
If StoryMarker™ for Social Stories is too pricey for you, here are 3 other less expensive options I like:
This is a free app with social stories for purchase as well as the ability to create your own social story by uploading your own photos, recording your own voice, and more.
This is a step above the Social Stories Creator & Library app in that it has 12 social narratives and the ability to create customized narratives with photos, text, and audio recording. It’s a paid app, and can be used to create visual schedules as well.
This is another wonderful tool to help you inexpensively create customized stories for your child with your own photos, text, and audio files, and you can email them to yourself in PDF format so you can print off a hard copy.
Social Story Templates
While customized Social Stories are more effective and children enjoy using their tablets for learning, time is a luxury most of us don’t have. Thankfully, there are heaps of generous parents and therapists out there who offer Social Story templates and activities for download. I often find free Social Stories are way too basic, but a site called Teachers Pay Teachers offers fabulous printable social stories with activities at an affordable price. Here are some of my favorites, all of which are under $5!
No Hitting with Social Skill Activities
I Can Calm Myself Down
Sometimes I Get Angry
Respecting Personal Space Is Really Important!
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Not Yelling or Crying in Class
The Fire Drill
Inside Out Feelings
I Can Brush My Teeth
Fidget Social Story
If you’re the parent or caregiver of a child with autism who struggles with social communication, Social Stories offer a fabulous opportunity to prepare and rehearse for events and situations before they take place. Whether you’re trying to teach your little one basic life skills, or equip her with the social skills she needs to succeed at school and beyond, a little creativity and a lot of practice can go a long way!
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