Social Stories with Children on the Spectrum (with Examples)

Social stories are a great way for parents to communicate social norms to children with autism.  By providing real-world examples for children to reference beforehand, parents can give their child space to navigate situations in the way that best works for them, all while still accounting for the thoughts and feelings of others.

Parents can help their children write social stories by using flashcards with basic images of story components: i.e. places, times, and actions.  Using flashcards, children can assemble a story like “I will brush my teeth before school” to establish a situation.  They then can discuss the “why” part of the story with “I will brush my teeth to stay clean.”  In addition to flashcards, parents can format social stories as comic strips or charts.  Using images can help children with autism process information, so parents should make their social-story tool clear and simple to use.

Here are some common examples of social stories:


  1. Sharing with my friends

Me and my friends like to play together.
We like to play with toys.
Sometimes we like to use the same toy.
It makes me happy when we all get to play with toys.
We can take turns with the toy.
I can wait for my turn and then say, “my turn.”
Everybody gets a turn to play with the toys.

2. Cleaning my room

I like to play in my room.
Sometimes when I make a mess.
After I’m done playing, I put my toys away.
I make my bed and sometimes I help vacuum.
I am happy when my room is clean.
I am happy when I can find my toys.

3. Keeping my hands to myself

I like to play with friends.
Sometimes when I play, I hit friends.

Hitting friends makes my friends sad.
I stop when I put my hands on my friends.
I take 5 big breaths.
My friends are happy when I keep my hands to myself.

4. Feeling angry

Sometimes I feel angry.
I use a loud voice and I bang my hands.
I make a good choice to calm down.
I take a break and take 5 big breaths.
I use my words and say I need help.
I start to feel better again.

5. Getting ready in the morning

I wake up and get ready for the day.
Getting ready helps me have fun later.

I get dressed and eat breakfast.
After breakfast, I brush my teeth.
I clean my room and make my bed.
Now I am ready to have fun!

It is vital for parents to use social stories before situations occur.  Children will always have a difficult time making wise decisions in the moment without guidance.  Parents should try to schedule regular times to practice social stories with children every day, rather than in response to negative behavior.

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