Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Autism Spectrum Disorder Social Stories

By: Rita Massullo & Caroline Ensor

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? That is a term you hear a lot in today’s world. And as much as you hear, there are many and varied perceptions. ASD is a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal social communication and social interaction. Other characteristics often associated with ASD are:

Engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements
Resistance to environmental changes or changes in daily routines
Unusual responses to sensory experiences.

As autism classroom teachers, we are presented frequently with questions from parents on how to introduce new activities, go through routines of the day and how to decrease anxieties which can cause behaviors.

Social stories are a great tool used to describe and/or teach a situation, skill or concept. The purpose of a social story is to improve the child’s understanding of the situation, skill or concept. They can share accurate information using a process, format, voice and content that is meaningful and physically, socially and emotionally safe for the child. For example:

1. I am starting a new school
2. I can eat new foods
3. I can go to the park
4. I can play with my friends

As we share this information with families on how to write social stories, we remind them to keep their child’s developmental level in mind, as they create a goal focused social story. Other factors to consider are length of the story, real vs. cartoon pictures, using “I” language and maintaining a positive and patient tone.
A good time to introduce and read the stories are before the activity or routine and while the child is in a calm and receptive state.  It is important to give the child opportunities to review the story frequently. You may also use the story as a visual aide to remind your child of expectations, steps of the routines and positive social behaviors.

There are a lot of resources out there, including free templates and examples. Here are a couple links that we have found helpful for our families.

1) Social Stories and Resources
2) Educate Autism - Social Stories
3) Challenging Behavior - Social Story Tips

Can you think of a social story to share with us about Choosy? We would love to start a social story collection!

In addition, join us in celebration for 2015 National Autism Awareness Month! #AutismUniquelyYou is a month-long social media campaign in April celebrating uniqueness and acceptance. It’s a simple concept – hand painting for a cause and raising awareness for the Autism Society. The campaign encourages people to paint their hands, make a video or take a picture of a unique product, share it on social media, and urge others to do the same! Share this how-to video with others.


Nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.  A popular way to promote autism awareness is to wear the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon.

About the Authors: 

Rita Massullo, M.A., in Early Childhood Special Education and M.S., in Physical Education with a specialization in Motor Development, both from West Virginia University, has been working in education for over 30 years. She began to use her field of early childhood motor development with students after they were dismissed from physical therapy, and began to coach other teachers the importance of stability and balance on a child’s performance during other activities.  She held the lead position in helping to design a playground to include designs for special needs children at the school she worked in.  She went on to become a certified early child special education teacher and worked in West Virginia school systems, pairing general education and special education instruction within the universal classroom for 3-5 year olds. Rita had an opportunity to teach overseas, developing a nursery (3-4 year old) program in one of the United Arabic Emerites’ International Baccalaureate schools. Rita currently resides in Denver, Colorado, and works in Aurora Public School as an Early Childhood Special Educator.  She continues to teach in her “love area:” Autism.

Caroline Ensor, B.S. in Early Childhood Special Education, Elementary Education and a certification in Autism Spectrum Disorder from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has been working with children with autism for over six years.  Caroline was a line therapist for the Wisconsin Early Autism Project for three years where she did in-home Applied Behavior Analysis therapy as a part of a therapy team partnering with families.  She collaborated to teach children pre-academic, academic, daily living, communication, motor, play and social skills, while also breaking down behavior barriers. Caroline currently resides in Denver, Colorado and works for Aurora Public Schools as an Early Childhood Special Educator focusing on children with autism.

14 comments :

  1. Love all of the resources! We read throughout the day and always before bedtime!

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    1. Reading is fantastic!! Keep up the great work!

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  2. This is great information. I use, write, have a variety of social stories for many occasions. They almost always work like a charm.

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    1. That is awesome! So glad that they work :) do you post any to your blog? Share with us if so!!

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  3. Great and informative post. And awesome resources. I know a lot of people who would benefit from this. I'll have to pass it along :).

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  4. I love that there are specific ways to approach children with Autism to help them learn new things and how important it is to work with them while they are calm.

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    1. Yup! And every child is different so different stories will relate :)

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  5. Very helpful post. It's good to have these strategies when working and visiting with children with autism.

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    1. You are so right. It can be that ace card in your pocket :)

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  6. While my child doesn't have this, he has a speech delay that has me interested in knowing more about this.

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    1. Hi Tami! Check out all of the resources we have shared. If there's any questions you may have, feel free to inbox us from the blog or send questions to Christinecox0925@gmail.com and she'll make sure we answer them for you!

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  7. This is really awesome! My husband is on the spectrum (Asperger's) and I wish this kind of thing was around when he was younger!

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  8. Social stories can be a fantastic resource! Thanks for the post Choosy :)

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