How to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports

How to Write a Social Story with Visual SupportsHow to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports

Do you know a child that is struggling with different situations?  Perhaps it is learning a new routine, participating in a conversation or playing with peers.  Whatever the situation, a social story may be helpful to inform children of what they can expect and what is expected of them.  Writing a social story can be a daunting task.  Here are some tips on how to write a social story with visual supports.

Use Different Types of Sentences

Carol Gray developed the concept of social stories.  She recommends that social stories include descriptive sentences and directive sentences.  You should write two descriptive sentences for every directive sentence that is included.  Sentences that describe can be factual sentences, perspective sentences, cooperative sentences and affirmative sentences.  Here are some examples:

  • Descriptive/Factual Sentence:  I ride a bus to school.
  • Perspective Sentence:  Sometimes, I get upset when I ride the bus.
  • Cooperative Sentence:  When I get upset, my friends can give me some space.
  • Affirmative Sentence:  Staying calm on the bus is good.

Sentences that direct can be can be directive or control sentences.  Here are some examples:

  • Directive Sentence (guide the child):  I may ask the bus aide for help.
  • Control Sentence (written by the child):  If I get upset, I can listen to my music.

Prepare the Story

Pick the topic and prepare the story.  Begin to write the text remembering to include 2 descriptive sentences for every 1 directive sentence.  If possible, involve the children in the creation of the social story.  This allows for ownership of the story and in turn, may increase compliance.  Guide the children with open-ended questions if necessary.

Add Pictures

Determine what pictures you will add to the story.  Place the picture above the text.  Make sure the pictures are clear and represent the meaning of the story.  Use photographs of the children, classroom or home or visual support pictures if you are unable to take photos.

Create the Book

If the book will be used to read to a large group, create a larger book.  If the book will be in the class library, laminate it for durability.  If the book is to be used with many children, make multiple copies so each child has his/her own.

Reading the Story

Be sure to set aside time to read the story to the children.  The children should be a “ready to learn” state and attended to the topic.  Read the book several times and have the children read it as well if possible.  Discuss personal experiences regarding the story to make connections to real-world situations.

After the Story

Once you have read the story several times, try role-playing to deepen the child’s understanding of the behavioral expectations. Provide on-going positive feedback when the child exhibits the expected outcome or behavior following the use of the social story.   Keep the social stories easily accessible so that children can re-read as necessary to review the expectations.

Reference: More, C. M. (2012). Social Stories™ and young children: Strategies for teachers. Intervention in School and Clinic47(3), 167-174.

If you are looking for resources to help jump start social story writing check out:

Cut and Paste Sensory DietVisual Supports: Schedules, Self-Regulation, & Classroom InclusionGoing to Doctor Visual Schedule

How to Write a Social Story with Visual Supports