How do you introduce a social story*? (part 3)


Speech-Language Pathologist


M.P.Ed., Board Certified Behaviour Analyst

This is Part 3 of a three-part series.

Remember Jacob? 

The 6-year-old boy who tantrums when things don’t go his way?

Once their story was ready, they were excited to share it with Jacob!

But how? 

Here are some things to keep in mind when introducing a social story* to your child:

  •   Create anticipation by talking about the social story* with your child! (i.e. I made a book for you!  Just for you!)
  •   To help prepare your child, be sure to read the social story* before the challenging or new situation. This will help prepare your child.
  •   When you read the story to your child, find a time when your child is ready to learn, in a quiet space away from distractions (like siblings!).
  •   Read the story MANY times together! 
  •  Talk about personal experiences about the story to make connections to real-world situations.
  •  If the story is being used to help teach a new skill (like deep breathing in Jacob’s story) practice the steps with your child many times.  Show them how by doing it yourself.  We learn so much from watching and doing it together.  
  • Help your child share the story with someone else, like a grandparent.  Encourage your child to read it, if they can.
  • Have fun! 

Now you are ready to try it out…Sit somewhere comfortable and read the book aloud while your child is in the room.  Don’t force your child to sit with you if this is hard.  Try to remove toys or other objects that are distractors.  Turn off the television, turn off the music.

Let your child explore the book by touching and flipping through the pages on their own.   If your child likes touching different textures like soft fur, fluffy cotton balls, rough sand paper or smooth tin foil, glue them to the pages to capture their interest.  If you have another child in the household, ask them to show interest in the book and read it aloud as well, if they can. 

If your child does not have an interest in sitting and looking at the book together, try again.  And again….and again.  It can take 5, 10, 20+ times before your child shows any interest.  Stay the course!!  

You may notice things in the story that need to be changed to better meet your child’s needs.  Keep adapting and trying!    Is the story too long or wordy? Is it confusing?  Is it written at the right level for my child? Does it focus on the appropriate behaviour?   Social stories can be very helpful tools but may only be part of a bigger behavioural approach for your child.

If you have questions or run into bumps along the way, talk to your child’s educator, therapist or teacher.  Reach out to your child’s case manager, if they have one.  Talk with other parents to see if they have experience with social stories*. 

If you have been following along with Jacob’s story, you may have a social story* created and are ready to go. A little preparation can go a long way. Things can go wrong but it is important not to give up. Remember to reach out to your support systems at the CMC, the school, the daycare.   Good luck!

* https://carolgraysocialstories.com/

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