As a substitute teacher, when I walk into a classroom full of students I have never met before, I assume some basic assumptions.
əˈsʌmp ʃən/ Show Spelled [ uh -suhmp-sh uh n] Show IPA
1. something taken for granted; a supposition: a correct assumption.
2. the act of taking for granted or supposing.
3. the act of taking to or upon oneself.
Such as, they will all know what I mean by “Line Up” and that they will line up in a straight, single file line.
Or that when I say “Pencils Down!”, they will all cease writing and place their pencils on top of their desks.
Or that when I say “Quiet Please!”, that they will all stop talking or reduce their voices to a whisper.
But some students do not follow these ‘assumptions’.
Some students may have autism, and therefore have a difficult time understanding social cues or take directions very literally.
Something as easy (to me and others) as lining up for lunch can be a confusing and uncomfortable situation for a student with autism.
Social stories help students with autism to understand social signs and behaviors of the other people in the situation.
Most students, even if they are not paying any attention at all, will still understand what to do if he/she sees everyone else lining up. A student with autism does not always get those social cues.
A social story could help that student by giving him/her a detailed explanation broken into steps on what to do in a particular situation, behaviors that may be exhibited by other students or teachers, the behavior or response that is expected by the teacher, and why this is the expected response or behavior.
The stories themselves are very simple and straight forward. They are written individually; each one is different and pertains to that particular student.
The story needs to be written from the student’s perspective and uses the pronoun “I”. Sentences and words cannot be absolute, such as using ‘always’.
To pinpoint the focus of the social story, the author needs to have plenty of information about the situation in mind.
I created a social story for a student who always wanted to go outside, and had difficulty understanding why he could go outside sometimes, and other times not.
Before I made his story, I had to consult with his other teachers and aides, and with the student himself.
I did this in order to come up with the most accurate story for the student.
I took photos of the outside of the school and the playground, which was where the student wanted to go when he went outside.
I also observed him and his behaviors to help pinpoint the focus of the story, determine the needs of the student, and direct how the social story will go.
Social stories do not have to be written as a one page document; imagination can be used and is highly recommended.
Illustrations, symbols, cartoons, slideshows, audio recordings or videos-whatever are the most helpful methods of learning for the student.
No matter what the presentation, the social story needs to include these four types of sentences or phrases:
Theory of mind
Specific to the student-what the student’s behavior or response should be
Sentences/phrases that the student creates to help him/her remember the story
*These are not always used*
The story should be reviewed often in a consistent pattern (before the situation is about to happen or in case it would happen) and monitored to see how well it is working.
The goal is to eventually phase out the social story when the student masters the situational behaviors and responses.
My Social Story
My social story was implemented in the Fall of 2008 and the student was not asking to go outside after 3 weeks.
We read the story daily, and he liked it because it had photos he recognized and it used his name.
He took the story home with him over the summer, and did not need it for school anymore. He remembered why he couldn’t always go outside.
But he kept the story anyway, because he liked looking at the playground photos.
What follows is the social story I created for my student.
Nick's “We Can’t Always Go Outside" Story
Some days I want to play outside.
People like to go outside sometimes.
I feel happy when I can have recess outside.
When it is raining I can’t go outside.
When it is snowing I can’t go outside.
When I can’t go outside I feel angry and frustrated. It is ok to feel angry and frustrated sometimes.
My teacher cannot control the weather. It is not my teacher’s fault I can’t go outside.
I can play on the playground when it is warm outside.